Reports Central Sands Community Health Profile

Central Sands Community Health Profile

Central Sands Community Health Profile, January 2018 (PDF)

The Minnesota Department of Health developed this community health profile in response to health concerns in a six-county region of North Central Minnesota (the “Central Sands” region). Community members and local and tribal health voiced these concerns in MDH’s 2016 visit to the area. The six counties included in this report are:  Becker, Hubbard, Morrison, Todd, Wadena and Otter Tail.

MDH staff used existing data from the MN Tracking network to write this report. Staff compiled a list of health concerns reported and reviewed existing surveillance data publicly available on the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal. The community health profile provides baseline data on ten health indicators with comparisons to statewide data. MDH created the report to help local public health and community members identify potential health disparities and prioritize public health action.

Key findings

Data and indicators examined for this project include existing county and regional level measures for pesticide poisonings, cancer incidence, asthma, COPD, child blood lead exposure, heart attacks, birth outcomes and obesity. Poverty was included as a key condition that can determine how healthy a person can be.

Some indicators of health risk and disease were higher in Central Sands counties compared to the state.

  • The Central Sands region as a whole had higher rates of pesticide poisoning emergency department (ED) visits compared to the state over a ten-year period (2005 to 2014). About 30% of these pesticide poisoning ED visits occurred in young children.
  • A number of Central Sands counties had higher poverty rates than the rest of the state (2010 to 2014).
  • Some counties had higher percentages of children tested for elevated blood lead. Some also had higher percentages of childhood obesity. Both of these outcomes are associated with poverty.
  • Some counties had higher COPD hospitalization rates than the state (2012 to 2014).
  • For cancer and heart attacks, depending on the county, rates were both higher and lower compared to the state.
  • None of the Central Sands counties had significantly higher or lower all-cancer rates as compared to the state (2009 to 2013). One county had lower melanoma rates, while another had higher colorectal cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma rates than the state.
  • Childhood cancers in the region were not significantly elevated (2004 to 2013).
  • Two counties had higher heart attack hospitalization rates than the state, whereas another had a lower rate (2011 to 2013).

Central Sands counties generally had lower rates of asthma compared to the state.

  • All Central Sands counties had significantly lower asthma Emergency Department (ED) visit rates for children 0 to 17 years old as compared to the state (2010 to 2014). For the population overall, most counties had lower asthma ED visit rates than the state.
  • One county had an asthma hospitalization rate significantly higher than the state.
  • Reproductive and birth outcomes assessed were similar to the state.
  • The percent of low birth weight and premature births in Central Sands counties were similar to the state (2011 to 2015).
  • Infant mortality in the region was slightly lower than the state but was not significantly different (2011 to 2015).


There are some important limitations to note about this report. Despite the fact that it was a key concern of community members, we were unable to include reliable data on developmental delays and disabilities. None of the data sources explored by staff provide reliable information on the incidence of developmental delays and disabilities in the Central Sands region compared to other parts of the state. Staff are currently exploring whether data on early childhood screening may start to answer this important question.

Also, many of the health outcome results presented do not reflect the health of people from Tribal nations in the area as Indian Health Service (IHS) data are not included for any of the outcomes that involve hospitalizations. The report does not present results by race/ethnicity as we do not have these data for most outcomes.

If you have questions about this report, contact the MN Tracking Program