Douglas County ranks 27th healthiest in state

We do well with seat belts, education and nutrition, but not drinking, STDs

Lawrence resident Maria Camarena buckles her 1-year-old son, Jason, into his car seat after a shopping trip Tuesday at The Community Mercantile Co-op. A study by the Kansas Health Institute shows that Douglas County is the 27th healthiest county in Kansas, out of 105. One of its strengths is the rate of seat-belt use.

How we stack up

The healthiest county: Gove County — along Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas — is No. 1.

The unhealthiest: Wyandotte County, home to Kansas City, Kan., is No. 105.

Our neighbors: Johnson, No. 3; Jefferson, No. 48; Leavenworth, No. 50; and Shawnee, No. 78.

In an inaugural report, the Kansas Health Institute has determined that Douglas County is the 27th healthiest among the 105 counties in Kansas.

“Not too shabby, but there’s 26 better places to be,” said Dan Partridge, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. “We need to pay attention to our behaviors that we partake in and that what we do shapes our health and that we can do better.”

The report also centers on what will determine the state’s future health: behavior, physical environment, economic factors and access to health care.

Douglas County residents do a good job at using seat belts.

Homes don’t have many instances of lead paint and a high number of residents have high school diplomas. Those are all pluses in the health institute’s report.

“We’re physically active,” Partridge said. “We’re pretty good nutritionwise. We do some good things with choices and then we make bad choices.”

Those bad choices include binge drinking. The county also has a high respiratory hazard index, and a high number of residents annually reporting sexually transmitted diseases.

“The message I take from it is that this tells us who our partners need to be in health,” Partridge said. “We need to be working with our younger folks. That’s where we need to be talking because that’s where our best progress can be made in shaping behaviors.”

You can find the report online at