Press "Enter" to skip to content

Hutchinson, Brookings Lead Healthy County Rankings; Indian Country in Bad Shape

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks counties for health factors and outcomes. Where do they find the healthiest living in South Dakota?

  1. Hutchinson
  2. Brookings
  3. Lincoln
  4. Hamlin
  5. Bon Homme
  6. Clay
  7. Edmunds
  8. Hughes
  9. Day
  10. Codington

And where will you find the most coughing and wheezing and aches and pains?

  1. Hanson
  2. Fall River
  3. Mellette
  4. Bennett
  5. Jackson
  6. Dewey
  7. Corson
  8. Todd
  9. Shannon
  10. Buffalo

Yes, the report is missing nine counties; the methodology doesn't say why.

The health care outcomes are calculated on length of life and quality of life. Where are South Dakotans living the longest?

  1. Lincoln
  2. Bon Homme
  3. Union
  4. Brookings
  5. Moody
  6. Hamlin
  7. Clay
  8. Edmunds
  9. Hutchinson
  10. Lawrence

And where are the enjoying the best quality of life?

  1. Hutchinson
  2. Brookings
  3. Hamlin
  4. Lincoln
  5. Hughes
  6. Charles Mix
  7. Clay
  8. Day
  9. Potter
  10. Lyman

There's a lot of data for local boosters and policymakers to sift through and perhaps identify factors their counties could investigate and work to improve. Consider this map of counties by quality of physical environment:

Healthy Physical Environment by county SD

This study folds five factors into "Physical environment": air pollution and particulate matter, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, driving alone to work, and long commutes. South Dakota's wide open spaces have a clear advantage over the urban/dairy madness of the I-29 corridor (particulate matter would include not just our tailpipes but the airborne fecal plumes from our East River dairies and hog lots). But on this scorecard and other rankings, we see more confirmation that Indian Country has unique challenges requiring our attention.

Dig into the data yourself, see what surprises you can find about your county, and then think about what changes could happen to make your county catch up with Freeman, Brookings, Beresford, and Castlewood!


  1. Nick Nemec 2014.03.28

    Are the not ranked counties those counties without a hospital?

  2. Eve Fisher 2014.03.28

    I note that one of the reasons for Lake County's relatively poor ranking is we have drinking water violations (d'oh - and they're ongoing), higher than average drinking (higher than both national and SD averages), and we don't have enough dentists or mental health care professionals (by both national and SD standards).

  3. Tim Higgins 2014.03.28

    Nick, not the case for Jerauld County. Wessington Springs has a hospital.

  4. Anne Beal 2014.03.28

    Funny how in Brookings, the big quality of life issue of the day is backyard chickens.

  5. larry kurtz 2014.03.28


  6. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.28

    The county of my youth, Hand, is in the top group. (HN, 3rd county east of Pierre.)

    What's wrong with Custer? Any thoughts?

  7. mike from iowa 2014.03.29

    Yea Deb,Custer expired in June of 76-1876. Place called "Greasy Grass". He and a passel of Sioux and Cheyennes met to investigate each other's capabilities and we all know how well that worked out. Just snarking. :)

Comments are closed.