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Five takeaways from the county health rankings

A screen grab of the Southern Nevada Health District's website showing statewide health data

On March 17, the Southern Nevada Health District threw a release party for the Nevada County Health Rankings, part of the national temperature-taking done each year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The event at the health district’s new digs on Decatur was all about gathering representatives of various counties to introduce the rankings and brainstorm ways they could be used to improve public health. Anybody who wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of the data had to do so on his own. So  Desert Companion did. Here’s a sample from the bottomless depths of information to be plumbed at


  1. Clark County is ranked No. 6 out of 17 Nevada counties in terms of overall health outcomes. No. 1 is Douglas; No. 17, Mineral.
  2. We’re 11th in quality of life, due to our relatively high rates of people in poor or fair health, and the relatively high number of physical and mental sick days we take.
  3. On average, Clark County residents smoke and drink more than the top-performing U.S. counties. We could laugh this off as Sin City syndrome if we didn’t also have nearly three times as many alcohol-impaired driving deaths and sexually transmitted diseases, and twice as many teen births.
  4. Clark County’s highest achievements in health outcomes are in clinical care, where we’re sixth-best in the state. Nevertheless, 24 percent of the population is still uninsured (compared with 11 percent in top-performing U.S. counties), and we lag nationally in preventable hospital stays, diabetic monitoring and mammography screenings. Perhaps most shocking is our lack of doctors: We have 1,830 residents for each primary care physician (compared with 1,040:1 nationwide).
  5. Socioeconomically, there is also room for improvement in Clark County, with relatively low rates of high school graduates and high rates of unemployment, children in poverty and single-parent households. Most remarkable is our violent crime incidence: 715 offenses per 100,000 population, compared with 59 in the U.S. and 67 in the state.
Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.