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A new report reveals that Mitchell County is ranked as the fifth healthiest county in Iowa out of the state's 99 counties.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released the 2013 County Health Rankings, a national report, late last month.

The report compares the health of counties in every state as measured by overall health and factors such as healthy behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

Sioux County in northwest Iowa ranked the highest in overall health outcomes, while Appanoose County in southern Iowa ranked at the bottom at 99th.

In the North Iowa region, Howard County was ranked 19th in the new report, while Worth County came in at 65th and Floyd at 71st.

Hancock was ranked 18th, Winnebago 50th and Cerro Gordo County was 55th in the report.

Overall Mitchell County showed improvements or maintained its ranking in five of the six overall health categories. The most significant increase was in the clinical care category. In 2012, the county was ranked 68 and this year moved up to 24 out of 99. Last year, Mitchell County was ranked 15th in the state

"I believe increased access to our quality health care facilities has helped contribute to the increase in the clinical care category," said LaVonne Wolf, Mitchell County Public Health Administrator. "Also, anytime you get more people insured you're able to increase clinical care."

She added that with more insurance companies offering preventive care and businesses offering wellness incentive programs, the county could continue to see a decrease in preventative hospital stays.

Overall, Wolf gave credit for the positive Mitchell County rankings to good health care and increased recreational and wellness opportunities in the local area,"

"I think access to the Cedar River Complex has opened opportunities to a lot of local people. Also we have quite a few paved walking and biking trails in Mitchell County," said Wolf.

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