Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Report ranks Hernando County low on overall community health

About 3,400 adults have quit smoking in the last three years.

About 3,400 adults have quit smoking in the last three years.

The numbers make it clear: Hernando County residents could be a whole lot healthier.

According to a report released recently by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hernando ranks in the bottom third of Florida counties in a number of categories tallied to gauge a community's overall health.

Years lost to premature death here are higher than the Florida average. Nearly one in four adults smoke, and a little more than one in four adults are obese. The average number of poor health days — both physical health and mental health — is twice the state average, and one in five people younger than 65 are uninsured.

The county also ranks low in social and economic factors, which experts say are direct contributors to poor physical and mental health. More than one in four Hernando children in poverty. One in every five adults lack adequate social or emotional support.

The study, now in its fourth year, measures the health of nearly all counties in the nation and rank them within states. The rankings are compiled using county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources. These measures are standardized and combined using scientifically-informed weights.

"More than anything, it allows us to see where we stand and where we can improve," said Ann-Gayl Ellis, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Health Department.

Though many of the numbers are concerning, there some encouraging trends, Ellis said.

The number of adult smokers is declining. In the last three years, about 3,400 have quit smoking, in large part due to more access to free cessation programs, tougher tobacco policies in workplaces, and prevention-based education in schools.

"Tobacco cessation and prevention has been a real pet project of the Department of Health," she said. "We can have such a great outcome if we help people quit or keep kids from starting because it's such an underlying factor of so many chronic diseases."

The study also shows that the number of diabetes screenings is steadily rising in Hernando. The YMCA received a federal grant last year to offer a diabetes prevention program targeted at people diagnosed with pre-diabetes, Ellis said.

Perhaps most encouraging is an effort to revitalize the county's Community Health Improvement Partnership.

The health department along with local stakeholders and support from the WellFlorida Council completed a health improvement plan in September. Now a partnership of social service agencies, local government, non-profit groups, and private businesses will tackle strategies outlined in the plan.

One of the first is to expand Hernando's presence on a nationwide hotline, Ellis said. People can dial 211 to learn about health resources in their area.

"What the health rankings study demonstrates is that it takes the community to improve the health of the community," Ellis said.

Reach Tony Marrero at or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Report ranks Hernando County low on overall community health 04/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, May 4, 2013 12:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre


    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]