Jefferson County has again received a Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation. Jefferson County had previously received a designation in 2018 and this renewal is recognition of continued work and program towards improving local health.

This program is intended to recognize and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin communities, and to promote cooperation across multiple sectors.

Gail Scott, Director/Health Officer, Jefferson County Health Department states “Jefferson County is proud to be among the 28 Wisconsin communities that received designations this year and one of five who received the Gold designation. Collaborating partners decided to renew this designation in 2021 to highlight the great work being done to improve the health of our community.” Several initiatives were used in this application and they include: Healthy Communities Coalitions, Drug Treatment Court and Alcohol Treatment Court, Jefferson County Park and Recreation Open Space Plan, Rock River Health Care Network, Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition, Rock River Community Clinic, Naloxone Education and Distribution Program, Drug Disposal Program, and Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration.

Achieving Gold status means that community partners are working collaboratively to examine the needs of the community and focus on sustainable solutions that have better health outcomes. Gold communities are also recognized when initiatives include multiple health factors such as health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment, as well as being scientifically supported. This process and the resources provided helps collaborating partners to determine what initiatives are being done well and where improvements can be made. Next steps for collaborating partners will be to sustain and build on current partnerships across multiple sectors, as well as diving deeper to assess and address current health needs to ensure health equity.

The designation recognizes Jefferson County and the Gold level for its work to improve health across multiple factors: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment, encourage communities to conceptualize health improvement in this broad way, structuring their health improvement efforts accordingly and to promote cooperation across multiple sectors.

The Healthy Communities Designation program is designed to be accessible to communities of all shapes and sizes, both rural and urban. The definition of community is broad and can include counties, municipalities, neighborhoods, and other self-defined, place-based communities in Wisconsin. The program uses a three-tiered approach – gold, silver, and bronze – which are meant to provide a trajectory and serve as a guide for communities as they continue to strive toward better health.

“Based on our community health needs assessments and other data collected from the Jefferson County community, we have pursued several initiatives to reach our overarching goals.”  Mike Wallace, President/CEO, Fort HealthCare, adds “The partnerships of our community have such strength, Jefferson County continues to move in the right direction, and we are proud of the prestige that comes with this Gold Designation. This is yet another example of what we can achieve when we all work together toward the health and wellness of the community.”

The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation is an initiative offered by the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) group of the UW Population Health Institute (UWPHI), in collaboration with diverse statewide groups. The Healthy Communities Designation program, funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is designed to recognize and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin. To learn more about the program, visit the program website: www.wihealthycommunities.org