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County health rankings show struggles in Southwest Georgia

New county health rankings show challenges for some Southwest Georgia areas./ Jazmyne Hankerson

New county health rankings show challenges for some Southwest Georgia areas.

Counties like Dougherty and Terrell fell in the lower end of all 159 counties in the state while Lee and Coffee finished among the best.

County Health Rankings:

  • Lee: 12
  • Coffee: 79
  • Tift: 85
  • Calhoun: 88
  • Worth: 91
  • Baker: 97
  • Berrien: 98
  • Mitchell: 113
  • Atkinson: 120
  • Irwin: 126
  • Colquitt: 137
  • Cook: 138
  • Turner: 144
  • Dougherty: 148
  • Ben Hill: 149
  • Crisp: 150
  • Terrell: 152

Those numbers take a lot more into account than just diet and exercise.

“They look at health outcomes and health outcomes have to do with the length of life and quality of life. Then it looks at health factors and those are the things that actually contribute to the health outcomes. Those could be things like employment opportunities, access to healthcare, [etc.],” said District Deputy Director for Southwest Georgia Public Health Brenda Greene.

Socioeconomic status and education are also factors that weigh into the final numbers.

Greene said health behaviors like avoiding tobacco, exercising, healthier eating habits are things everyone can control to try to make more favorable health outcomes.

The Albany Area YMCA aims to help the community with lifestyle changes with their Team Lean Campaign.

It’s 12-week weight loss challenge that teaches nutrition and exercise with a cash prize at the end for the winner.

“It’s not just a temporary weight loss. We want people to make a lifestyle change,” said Director of Health and Wellness Donette Kline-Lewis.

Greene said public health also works with community partners to improve other factors that could make an impact.

“[We talk about] injury prevention, educating about gun safety and using seat belts and using car seats those are things that we can work on that can make a difference,” said Greene.

Access to healthcare also plays a big part.

And though many of these rural counties don’t have hospitals, Greene said the use of telemedicine is helping to improve that.

While experts don’t want any counties in the region to fall in the bottom end of the spectrum, they’re looking to see constant growth.

“Sometimes we may not see it from year to year but over time [improvement] is what we’re looking for,” said Greene.

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