The Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition, Inc. (NWGRCC) has received a “Two Georgias” Grant to improve the health of Chattooga County. NWGRCC is tasked with creating a Community Health Partnership titled “Live Healthy Chattooga County Coalition”, participating in a Community Health Assessment, and creating a Community Health Improvement Plan. The project is funded in part by a grant of $70,500 from Healthcare Georgia Foundation.
From Media release: Chattooga County is located in NW Georgia and has a population of almost 27,000 people. The Chattooga County Health Ranking is 99 out of 159. There are no mental health or full hospital facilities in the county. Floyd Medical Center furnishes an Urgent Care and a Physical Therapy and Rehab Center. Redmond Regional Medical Center furnishes a Family Medicine Clinic and supplies the ambulance services for the county. Primary Healthcare Center, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (an FQHC), is also located in Chattooga County.
Problems associated with access to care were reflected in the community input sessions and community surveys conducted by Floyd Medical Center in their 2013 Community Assessment. Regarding Healthy Behaviors reported by people in Chattooga County – 19% adults reported they smoke and 36% have a BMI of 30 or more. Almost half (49%) of adults reported having access to exercise opportunities. The Primary Care Provider ratio is 1,918:1. Health behaviors are modifiable factors that impact the overall health of a community with high rates for tobacco use, obesity and teen births. The risk factors in Chattooga County are obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, limited access to health care and prevention services, poor diet, and alcohol use.
Chattooga County has a rate of death that is significantly higher than the state averages for ischemic heart and vascular disease, COPD, and Alzheimer’s disease. Incidence rates are significantly high for cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions (including lung cancer) and digestive system disease (including colorectal cancer). There is also a high occurrence of hospitalization associated with fall-related injuries.
The 2013 Floyd Medical Center Community Survey results reveal that 33% of Chattooga County residents believe themselves to be healthy or very healthy, while 67% consider their community as a whole to be unhealthy or very unhealthy. The main health concern relates to the overall economic status of the community. These factors include employment, access to health insurance, transportation for services and the cost of healthy eating. Lifestyle issues are also a concern relating specifically to tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity and substance abuse. The main barriers to a healthy community were identified as convenience of health care services, knowledge of services available, cost of services and apathy. Working poor who may live at or below the poverty threshold, but who do not qualify for public assistance are presumably less likely to make health and wellness a priority, and are often not insured. Through the Two Georgias Grant opportunity, these barriers can be addressed and many may be overcome with the partnership and dedication of the community organizations, governments, existing facilities, volunteers and citizens themselves.