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Health Leaders Host Forum To Fix Sangamon County Health Ranking

Updated: Tuesday, February 11 2014, 09:32 AM CST

Despite the number of hospitals, doctors and health institutions in Sangamon County, it still managed to rank 80 out of 102 when it comes to being the healthiest county in the state.

Monday night medical professionals spoke about ways to improve the health rankings.

Hundreds of medical professionals and residents gathered to improve the landscape of health and well being in Sangamon County

"I was a little surprised when the rankings came out. Very disturbed to see Sangamon County ranks so low in the State of Illinois," said the President and Founder of GenH Kids, Dr. Kemia Sarraf.

Sangamon ranked 80 out of 102 counties. That's even more shocking since Sangamon County is ranked 2nd in clinical services.

"We have such a tremendous medical system here in Sangamon County. We have wonderful hospitals, a teaching institution," said Dr. Sarraf.

"It's estimated that clinical care, or access to good quality medical care, only accounts for about 20% of what leads to long life expectancy," said Deputy Director of County Health Rankings, Dr. Julie Williams Dijk.

County health rankings are based on a number of factors including environmental, education and exercise. With Sangamon County home to a number of hospitals and health institutions the Director of Public Health suggested everyone start working together.

"For some reason, we all tend from time to time to work on our own silos. We don't seem to just pull it all together," said the Sangamon County Department of Public Health Director, Jim Stone.

But improving health goes far beyond medical professionals.

"If we want to create good health in a community we also need our elected officials with us because they make policy about how easy it is to ride a bike in your town or walk on a sidewalk," said Dr. Williams.

Although the low ranking of Sangamon County may be shocking now, health professionals are ready to take a proactive approach.

"I think it's incredibly important that we don't just take information like this and throw our hands in the air and say, now what? There is nothing that can be done about it," said Dr. Sarraf.

Also Monday night health leaders said area businesses and schools should start making changes. One suggestion, when offering food at the workplace or school increase the price of things like burgers and fries. Salads and other healthy choices should be at a significantly lower price.

Health Leaders Host Forum To Fix Sangamon County Health Ranking

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