Montgomery County is again near the bottom in the Kansas county health rankings for 2019, according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The annual County Health Rankings measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, quality of air and water, income inequality and teen births.

Most southeast counties ranked near the bottom as Chautauqua County came in last at 102, Labette County came in low at 101, Wilson County was listed at 94, Elk County was listed at 75 and Montgomery County was listed at 98. Out of 102 counties, southeast Kansas is not looking very healthy. The healthiest county in Kansas was listed as Johnson County followed by Nemaha and Pottawatomie counties. Rounding out the top 5 were Wabaunsee and Riley counties.

Quality of life in Montgomery County was listed at 98 and length of life at 96. The percentage of county citizens in poor or fair health was 17. Citizens of Montgomery County have a life expectancy average of 74.6, whereas the state of Kansas average is 78.6. 

Healthy behaviors are not in the county's favor either, being listed at 98. Adult smoking is holding steady at 19 percent and instead of improving the adult obesity rates over the last year, Montgomery County was unsuccessful as it rose from 38 to 40 percent of citizens considered as obese.  Thirty-two percent of Montgomery County citizens do not engage in physical activity although 75 percent of them have access to exercise opportunities. Only 16 percent of the county residents have problems with excessive drinking but there was 22 percent listed under alcohol-impaired driving deaths. Another trend the study noted was the rise in sexually transmitted infections which is up to 363.2, compared to the state at 152.8. 

On a more positive note, clinical care in Montgomery County ranked at 66 out of 102 counties with the number of uninsured going down to 12 percent. The ratio of primary care physicians was worse at 3,270:1, although improvement was seen in dentists — 1,710:1. Staying about the same was preventable hospital stays and mammography screening but falling in the rankings was flu vaccinations, only 42 percent of county residents received a flu vaccination, according to the report.

The number lowered for social and economic factors as it dropped to 101 with a rise in children living in poverty and violent crime. The report showed 87 percent of county residents graduated from high school and 67 percent had some college experience. Children living in poverty normally sees a rise and fall from year to year as does violent crimes. The median household income for Montgomery County was at $45,800, according to the report, with 65 percent of children being eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The study showed six homicides and 16 firearm fatalities.

Improvement was seen in air pollution-particulate matter which was listed at 10.1, the State of Kansas was listed at 8.1. Most commuters travel alone when heading to and from work — 80 percent. 

To improve your health and the health of your community, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps suggests taking action — the Take Action Cycle to be exact. The Take Action Cycle begins by community members gathering information to assess needs and resources so they can set priorities — focus on what is important. Then they can find the most effective approaches to address priorities and "get to work on acting" on what is important. Lastly, you can evaluate throughout the cycle to help improve strategies and ensure what is happening is effective.