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Northland health info gets online home

(Screenshot from bridginghealthnorth.org)

Perhaps you want to know the percentage of Douglas County residents older than 18 who don't have health insurance.

Or the percentage of households in the 55806 ZIP code (Lincoln Park and the Central Hillside) with incomes that are less than $15,000.

Or the infant mortality rate in St. Louis County and how that compares with the state and nation as a whole.

The answer to those questions (5.9 percent, 24.7 percent, 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births — higher than the state rate but lower than the national rate) and hundreds of others are available in a website unveiled on Wednesday in an event at the Zeitgeist building in downtown Duluth.

A health policy wonk's dream, the Bridging Health North website is the result of a collaboration among Generations Health Care Initiatives, St. Louis County, Essentia Health and St. Luke's hospital.

"If you're interested in learning how many people have health insurance in the community, how many people have diabetes, live in proximity to a grocery store — that's all on here, as well as 170 other indicators that you can search at any time," said Emily Anderson, community health program manager at Essentia Health and the website's administrator.

The website covers Pine and Itasca counties as well as St. Louis and Douglas counties and smaller geographic entities within those counties, broken down all the way to ZIP codes. Anderson called it a one-stop shop for the area's health information.

The process of moving reams of health-related data into a single place began in October, Anderson said. The website actually went live in January but had its coming-out party, complete with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting, on Wednesday.

It gives community-based nonprofits a boost up in efforts to improve health equity in the region, said Tony Cuneo, the director at Zeitgeist.

"Having one place that we can all come to and get an understanding of what are our shared priorities — what do we all know and agree that we know about the demographic ... factors that have an impact on our health — that allows us to coordinate our work, streamline our work and work in better partnership and ultimately make better decisions," he said.

When seeking funds from national and regional foundations, having such a tool provides a concrete example of how committed local communities are to working in a coordinated fashion, Cuneo said.

See for yourself

The website for the online community health tool is BridgingHealthNorth.org.

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