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ONLINE CANDIDATE FORUM: HEALTH IN GRUNDY COUNTY

Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 9:58 am

Grundy County ranks 95th of 95 counties in health

 

  • Too many of us are too fat. Tennessee has the worst childhood obesity rate in the USA, and the fifth worst adult obesity rate.
  • There are only seven states where residents smoke more cigarettes.
  • Tennesseans have more opioid prescriptions than all but one other state.
  • And, compared to other states, Tennesseans don’t like to exercise, ranking 6th from the bottom in the percentage of adults who exercise regularly (according to a recent Gallup poll).

 

Bad habits equal poor health

It’s no surprise that our bad habits contribute to some disappointing health statistics.Tennesseans suffer from heart disease and diabetes, ranking sixth worst in those measurements.

The state ranks near the bottom in the number of babies born with low birth weight, and in infant mortality.

 

What can we do?

There are many factors that impact whether Tennesseans can improve their overall health.

Adequate health insurance is a significant factor. Tennessee ranks 40thon the number people who do not have health insurance. U.S. News reported that 19.6 of Grundy Countyians do not have health insurance. However, the state does a much better job of making sure its children have health insurance, ranking 22nd.

Being able to access health care is also crucial, and some parts of Tennessee have watched their local hospitals close.

 

Obesity in Grundy County

One of the most significant challenges the county faces is obesity, in both children and adults. According to Steve and Karen Wickham (Karen writes our weekly Health Check article and Steve leads excellent diabetes education seminars), better food choices are one of the best answers to this problem. In fact, the Healthier Tennessee initiative is attempting to get people to eat healthy food.

Are changes ahead?

We asked the candidates what they, if elected and knowing that Grundy County ranks 95thin health, would do to improve the health of county residents. How would they prioritize health in Grundy County, and what could they, in their chosen office, do to make immediate improvements?

 

 

 

Iva Michelle Russell – Candidate, Grundy County Mayor

Iva Michelle Russell

In preparation for writing these requested opinion pieces, I took a great deal of time reading our Governor’s Rural Taskforce report and the recommendations therein. Why reinvent the wheel when really knowledgeable people were pulled together from all over the state to come up with solutions for the obstacles and challenges our rural areas face. I then contacted some other really smart people who I have met over the years and asked for their viewpoints. Finally, I reviewed what we are already doing here at home, and let me tell you, we have some amazing people and programs already in place. These are the suggestions I will bring to the table.

Prevention should be our number one goal:

  • Promote healthy lifestyles in all we do.
  • Encourage use of existing outdoor recreation sites like Mountain Goat Trail and our state park.
  • Educate community on healthy diet solutions; partner with farmers markets, businesses & restaurants for comprehensive availability options.
  • Facilitate group exercise opportunities like running/walking/bicycling clubs.
  • Expand recreational opportunities for our youth.

Offer Affordable Healthcare opportunities:

  • Support Beersheba Medical Clinic and other sliding scale health professionals
  • Expand mental health assistance including addiction and recovery help.
  • Explore the new Community Paramedicine healthcare model.
  • Encourage faith-based and homeopathic medicine opportunities.
  • Partner with Tennessee state government in rural healthcare recruitment efforts.
  • Find more oral health opportunities.

Last point. Loneliness and depression can affect our overall health in so many different ways, including suicide and drug addiction. A smile and a kind word to a neighbor or someone next to you in the grocery aisle could make a difference in someone’s life, in fact, it could be the answer to everything.

 

Mayor Michael Brady – Candidate, Grundy County Mayor

Michael Brady

Health is vitally important. Last Year Grundy County received the Healthier Tennessee destination award for all the endeavors taking place for improving Grundy Health, but we have a lot more to do. We have identified 3 key areas we can improve on. Those being adequate Healthcare facilities, combating poverty, life styles, and supporting health origination.

I feel that a major issue concerning Grundy County’s health is a lack of adequate Healthcare facilities. We have been working for the past 3 years with others in the area and healthcare originations to bring an Emergency room, Dentistry, and urgent care to Grundy County. We have been persistent with our endeavors and made huge steps. We feel that these facilities will become a reality in the near future.

Combating Poverty is crucial to improving our health. Economic development, housing, and education are key in combating Poverty. Since 2014 our poverty has dropped 4% but we have a lot more to do and I will continue to work diligently to fight poverty in Grundy County. Active and healthy life style choices are essential for good health.  We have and will continue to promote healthy Life styles and activities. We have constructed an exercise park and walking trails at Big Creek, and had several events promoting activity. We are developing plans to further recreation facilities in Grundy County.

Organization support is vital to improving our overall health. I have and will continue to work and support organizations such as our faith based, Active 8, health collision, and reversing Diabetes. Some of these health initiatives are health and wellness program, School programs, behavioral programs, and free health care treatment.

If elected I will continue to put auction behind making a healthier Grundy County. By recruiting adequate health care facilities, combating poverty, life style, and supporting origination for the health of Grundy County.

 

Rep. Paul Sherrell – Candidate, State Representative

Paul Sherrell

As a member of the House Health Committee, one of my main priorities is improving health outcomes for our citizens.

In 2018, we began addressing the opioid epidemic with passage of the groundbreaking Tennessee Together plan. It tackles opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. The opioid crisis is the paramount health issue that will ultimately determine our future well-being. We must continue to find new solutions that will end our cycle of addiction.

Additionally, House Republicans are working to return your health care decisions to you! We remain focused on limiting the role that insurance companies play in the decision making process because we believe they should be left up to patients and their doctors. Recently, we’ve increased competition by reforming certificate of need laws, and we believe that price transparency is also critical in providing better affordability.

We also passed legislation designed to save our rural hospitals this year. The Tennessee Rural Hospital Transformation Act creates a program within the Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD) that supports our rural, private, and public hospitals by developing strategies to improve operational efficiency.

Finally, new legislation and continued partnerships will also improve some of the unfavorable health trends we have experienced. This year, I cosponsored the Tom Cronan Physical Education Act; it encourages our children to lead healthier lifestyles by participating in physical education classes at least twice per week.

We are also working on the creation of a new legislative Wellness Caucus. In partnership with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, members will study and propose new solutions to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. I look forward to supporting their efforts, and I know we will improve health outcomes for our residents in Grundy County and across Tennessee.