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      Jefferson County named 14th healthiest county in the state

      Jefferson County was named the 14th healthiest county in the state of Iowa by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population of Health Institute.

      This year's ranking marked at 28-spot jump from 42nd in 2011. The report measures health behaviors, clinical care and socio-economic factors to compare counties in every state. In Jefferson County, the tie-in with the Blue Zones initiative and the consistent involvement with the community was a huge contributing factor to the increase in rank.

      "I think the things contributing to our improvement here in the county is our willingness to work together," said Ken Daley, Executive Director of the wellness initiative Let'sGoJeffCo. "This is a very tight community with a lot of foresight. People in this community really are trying to do things right."

      Daley said the county will now look over the reasons for the ranking to see what improved and what changes still need to be made.

      Socio-economic factors is one area marked for definite improvement. The rate of children in poverty in the county is at 23%, a figure that Daley knows must be improved upon. Clinical care, preventative hospital stays and mammography screenings are other areas of focus.

      By combining the county rankings, the developing goals of the Blue Zones project and the grants already received, the Jefferson County will move forward in their goal to be named the healthiest county in Iowa.

      "Putting those three together, looking at our strengths and weaknesses, we'll be able to come up with a strategic plan that meets several different organizations' input," Daley said. "That way we're going to get the truest bang for our buck here, to be able to drive things forward."

      Elsewhere in Southeast Iowa, Davis County was ranked at 15th, Wapello 94th, Van Buren at 98th.