FORT WALTON BEACH — The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and acknowledged in March by the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at www.FLHealthCHARTS.com.

“This study helps show us what areas we can improve. Premature death is one of the areas for improvement in Okaloosa County. Opioid deaths are a factor in decreased life expectancy, and three groups for our Community Health Improvement Plan are working to reduce the impacts of drug use in the county,” Dr. Karen Chapman, FDOH-Okaloosa director, said.  ​

These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country, and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, nonprofit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Okaloosa County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.​

In Okaloosa County, the Community Health Improvement Plan addresses specific opportunities for improved health identified by the community. The department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress.

“In 2017 the citizens of Okaloosa County voted for injury prevention to be addressed during open town-hall meetings. We have brought together a great group of community partners in a collaborative effort to help make Okaloosa County safer,” Christopher Missler, Trauma Educator/Injury Prevention coordinator at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, said. “The first task we chose to address is the narcotic epidemic plaguing our country.”​

North Okaloosa Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Daniel Shearn said, “Opioid abuse has been detrimental on the health of our community and often has a negative impact on our hospital staff. Through education and guidelines that have been built in our county, our staff have learned more about this epidemic and now are able to deal with these patients more appropriately.”  ​

Visit www.FLHealthCHARTS.com to explore more health indicators in your county.