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Grady Countians are not the healthiest folks

How does Grady County stack up against other Georgia counties when ranked according to mortality, morbidity, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment?
Statistics based on objective data gathered from public health institutions and health care practitioners can  provide an interesting snapshot of the area’s health care system.
In a report prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, counties in Georgia were ranked according to overall health: the county ranked number 1 is considered the healthiest county in the state.
Grady County ranked number 93 in the mix of 156 of the 159 Georgia counties that were surveyed.
Rankings were based on many different factors ranging from health behaviors, education and jobs, to quality of health care and the environment.
The 2011 Georgia County Health Rankings for Grady County show 12 percent of its population has diabetes, compared to 8 percent of Georgia’s population; 75 percent of its population is screened for diabetes, compared to 82% of Georgia’s population; 31 percent of the county’s adult population is obese, compared to 28% of Georgia’s adults, and 24 percent of its adults smoke, compared to 20% of Georgia’s adult population.
At the forefront of concern for Grady County Health Department County Nurse Manager Peggy Connell is a higher than average incidence of hypertension and stroke in southwest Georgia.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) left unchecked can lead to stroke, says the county nurse manager. As a preventive health care measure, she advises the public to get a blood pressure check at least once a year, and those who have a family history of the disease should monitor blood pressure periodically, or several times year.
The most recent statistical data available regarding strokes (2009) from the Georgia Department of Public Health reveals that, on average over the past five years, Grady County’s stroke incidence rate slightly exceeded that of the Southwest Health District and the State of Georgia.
The Grady County Health Department provides counseling and other services to stroke/hypertension patients, in addition to general health screenings.
“Social and economic factors affect the health outcomes of a community’s population,” said Grady County Head Nurse Peggy Connell.
“While we provide hypertension, diabetes and nutrition programs and more, and also constantly put out messages about exercise and other healthy behaviors, there are some influences that are beyond our control.
“Factors such as illiteracy and poverty directly impact a community’s health. In Grady County, 23 percent of the population is illiterate, compared to 16.7 percent of the state’s population. Thirty-three percent of our children live in poverty, compared to 20 percent statewide,” the head nurse said.
But public health programs pay off, Connell said. “Our programs have been looked at by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the past and were determined to have reduced emergency room use and hospitalizations for complications of poorly controlled hypertension,” she said.
“We have work-site programs like ‘Hooked on Health’ that emphasize five healthy behaviors – being active; eating healthy; getting screening; managing stress; and being tobacco-free,” Connell said, adding, “We also partner with physicians and other healthcare providers.”
To view the 2011 Health Outcome rankings online visit

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