A national ranking system has for years given Fresno County’s health a failing grade. At the county’s inaugural “state of the health” breakfast on Friday, health leaders vowed to change that.
In 2017, the philanthropic organization Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Fresno County 52nd out of 58 counties. The rankings are based on a range of factors, from social and environmental determinants of health, to outcomes like low birthweight, obesity and premature death.
Since 2012, the county has dropped ten slots from 42nd to 52nd place—a trend that troubles Sue Kincaid, director of the Fresno Community Health Improvement Partnership, or FCHIP. "It’s been going down for the last couple of years and it should really be going up," she said.
FCHIP is leading the latest effort to combat Fresno’s poor health outcomes. Leaders announced today that in the next 10 years, it aims to pull Fresno into the state’s top 30 healthiest counties.
Where the county scored lowest is in social factors like high unemployment and poverty, and environmental factors like high air pollution and limited park space. Kincaid says FCHIP is tackling these problems by pulling local health leaders together to solve these problems in working groups.
"There are groups that are working on housing, education, poverty, jobs, those kinds of things," she said. "The work was already happening; what we’re doing is bringing people together. We’re connecting them, we’re aligning them, we’re collaborating together and leveraging resources."
Democratic Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, one of the event’s keynote speakers, confirmed the importance of community initiatives like this. "When you have the worst air quality in the nation, when you have some of the metrics that we do within our valley, we must figure out how to break down silos and start to talk about these problems in a collaborative way," he said.
The CEO of the Blue Shield California Foundation also shared great praise for the initiative, calling it “commendable” and “courageous.”