Healthwise, county in top third  

Rappahannock County is the 37th healthiest of Virginia’s 133 counties, according to a yearly health ranking provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The rankings track a number of different health-related statistics, including mortality, morbidity, clinical care and social and environmental factors for every county in Virginia, providing comparisons to both the state and national averages.

Only 9 percent of Rappahannock residents are listed as being in “poor or fair health,” which is well under the state average (14 percent) and below the national average as well (10 percent). At 7 percent, Rappahannock also beats the state average for low birth weight (8.3 percent), but is slightly over the national average (6 percent).

“My major takeaway on the survey is that with few local doctors and dentists we score poorly on the ratios for them or we’d be even higher than 37th,” said County Administrator John McCarthy, who’s long been involved in regional medical-care issues and who also serves on the Fauquier Hospital board. “Otherwise we are well served by providers in Warrenton, Culpeper and Front Royal, as well as by locals, of course.”

Under “Clinical Care” categories, which include tallies of the total number of uninsured residents as well as doctor-patient ratio for dentists and physicians, Rappahannock’s numbers are indeed below the averages.

Eighteen percent of Rappahannock residents are uninsured; that’s above both the state (15 percent) and national averages (11 percent). Likewise, dentists in Rappahannock have a 3,774:1 patient to doctor ratio, while primary care physicians average 1,878 patients.

Both of those ratios are below state and national averages, where dentists average 1,811 and 1,516, respectively, while doctors average 1,356 and 1,067, respectively. Those numbers place Rappahannock at 95 out of 113 counties.

“Social and Economic Factors” help Rapp bounce back, however, ranking it at the 34th best in the state. More than 80 percent of residents graduate high school (slightly below Virginia’s 88 percent), while 64 percent go on to “some college education.” That’s right in line with the state average (67 percent) and six percent beneath the national average (70 percent).

Rappahannock’s overall ranking places it ahead of most of the surrounding counties, including Madison (44), Culpeper (41), Page (43) and Warren (62) counties. Only Fauquier County, which is ranked 33, ranks above Rappahannock for overall health.

A greater percentage of Fauquier’s population (13 percent) is listed as “poor or fair health,” though only 6.8 percent of children born in Fauquier suffer from low birthweight. Fauquier also boasts a higher percentage of adult obesity (27 percent) than Rappahannock (26 percent); the state average is 28 percent, nationally it’s 25 percent.

However, only 13 percent of Fauquier’s population is uninsured, a full 5 percent less than Rappahannock. Fauquier also has a better doctor to patient ratio (2,043:1) and a slightly better dentist to patient ratio (1,827:1).

Fauquier has a higher rate of high school graduates (93 percent), but is tied with Rappahannock for “some college education.”

To see the full study, including a breakdown of all 113 counties in Virginia, visit countyhealthrankings.org.

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