It wasn’t two months ago that the News-Press reported on its front page that the City of Falls Church had been rated No. 1 in all of Virginia for being “the healthiest locality in Virginia” and for “underlying factors that influence health,” according to a survey by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute circulated by the Virginia Department of Health.
Now comes a new survey, even bigger than the last one because it covers the entire U.S. of A. and not “just” Virginia. CVS Health and the U.S. News and World Report announced yesterday that the City of Falls Church is ranked second among jurisdictions in the nation behind only Los Alamos, New Mexico, in their fifth annual “Healthiest Communities” report.
Key metrics in the rankings are categories such as population health, public safety, education, mental health and life expectancy, according to the new report.
“We all know the significant impact that social determinants have on the health and well-being of individuals and our local communities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, vice president and chief health equity officer for CVS Health.
“The data we collect helps us determine the best way to collaborate with communities to develop sustainable solutions and advance health equity in a way that meets their unique needs.”
At No. 2, Falls Church joins three other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia in the top 20 in the new report — Loudoun County (No. 12), Arlington County (No. 13) and Fairfax County (No. 17) — out of over 3,000 communities nationwide.
While Falls Church is second in the U.S. only to Los Alamos, New Mexico (which was placed first three years in a row, being perched on a mountain plateau near Albuquerque as a national center for rocket science), Falls Church is followed in the rankings by Douglas County, Colorado (near Denver), Morgan County, Utah (near Salt Lake City) and Carver County, Minnesota (near Minneapolis).
New this year in these rankings is data on natural disasters taken from FEMA’s National Risk Index. Analysis shows, for example, that indigenous people are the most at risk from natural hazards, such as sustained periods of colder temperatures, droughts, river and stream flooding and wildfires.
Among other things, “the data behind these rankings provide a deep dive into the state of health equity in our country,” said Kim Castro, editor at U.S. News. “The project serves as a tool to inform residents, community health leaders and elected officials about the policies and best practices for better health outcomes by assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life.”
CVS and U.S. News partnered for this study with the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Concerns, a research institution skilled in community health assessment.
Metrics were drawn from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.
In another ranking relevant to this area, in a sub-category, Fairfax County, Virginia is ranked first in the U.S. among “Top Five Communities for Mental Health,” the only one east of the Rockies.
CVS Health prides itself in “reaching more people and improving the health of communities across the U.S. through local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 employees, including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners.
“We help people navigate the healthcare system and their personal health care by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. We do it all with heart, each and every day,” a statement sent out with yesterday’s report stated.
There are two CVS locations in the City of Falls Church, though neither is open 24 hours (the nearest CVS location with that feature is in the Yorktown Plaza near the Gallows Road/Route 50 intersection).
Falls Church sits between two mega health care systems, Inova and the Virginia Hospital Center affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, and earlier this month Inova announced the opening of a “Pride Clinic” in the City of Falls Church, the only in the region dedicated to serving all the needs of the LGBTQ+ population.