New Grant Helping Tanner Continue Community Health Efforts in Haralson County

Two Georgias Initiative already having impact in county.

A new grant is helping Haralson County build a healthier community.

Tanner Health System is among 11 nonprofit organizations in the state to receive a grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation aimed at addressing the persistent inequities in health outcomes that disproportionately impact rural Georgians. Funding was awarded through Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s The Two Georgias Initiative.

“No one should be denied access to quality health care because of their ZIP code or place of residence,” said Foundation President Gary D. Nelson, PhD. “We believe this initiative provides our rural residents with the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of these 11 rural collaboratives as they craft innovative solutions to eliminate health disparities and promote economic development in their communities.”

Tanner is working through the Community Health Partnership “Healthy Haralson,” a committee of Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well. Get Healthy, Live Well is a multi-sector community coalition working to educate, promote and develop sustained conditions for healthy lifestyles where people live, learn, work, play and pray in west Georgia.

“The Two Georgias Initiative grant will help Get Healthy, Live Well continue its efforts to improve the health of residents in Haralson County,” said Denise Taylor, senior vice president and chief community health and brand officer for Tanner Health System. “We look forward to working with ‘Healthy Haralson’ and improving social conditions that impact health.”

When Chamber of Commerce President Eric McDonald thinks of a vibrant community, he sees a place filled with diverse businesses, plenty of shopping opportunities, a variety of great places to eat and a lot of outdoor recreation activities. That’s why he is working to help make Haralson County a healthier place to live, learn, work, play and pray.

“If you’re having issues with your health, it can make it more difficult for you to achieve your full potential at school, home, work or church,” McDonald said.

He is looking forward to working with Tanner to help address and find solutions to many of the issues Haralson County faces. “Tanner has always been an excellent partner and we look forward to continuing that partnership through our work to make Haralson County a healthier community,” McDonald said.

The goals of The Two Georgias Initiative are to achieve greater health equity among rural populations; improve health and health care for rural Georgians; build healthier rural communities; and improve social conditions that impact the health of the rural population.

After completing a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), the Healthy Haralson committee met earlier this year to identify the most pressing health issues the county is facing and came up with an action plan.

“The first year was for the assessment and the following years are for implementation of what the community coalition determines to be top priorities,” said Taylor. “A lot of the initiatives and programs we have already developed will play into some of that implementation. But it will be more concentrated in Haralson County.”

To tackle the identified issues, the committee established six task forces — Healthy Lifestyles and Education, Increasing Awareness of Existing Programs, Increasing Provider Resources, Senior Needs, Substance Misuse and Youth Mental Health. Some of the activities planned to achieve the goals of each task force include identifying and promoting existing community resources, expanding behavioral health services for youth, increasing access to healthier food options, providing health education and training and informing the community about on-going needs.

On May 15, the committee presented the three-year Community Health Improvement Plan to over 60 community leaders. While the areas of need were only identified a short time ago, work has already begun on improving the community’s health.

“We have incredibly enthusiastic community members who have started making progress on these activities and objectives,” said Alicia Michael, rural health outreach coordinator for Get Healthy, Live Well.

These objectives include creating an online community resource guide and automated telephone hotline, providing educational training sessions to law enforcement and first responders on policies and usage of naloxone — a medication used to treat opioid overdoses —and developing multi-sector community partnerships in an effort to expand community service opportunities.

Since Get Healthy, Live Well began in 2012, Tanner has attracted more than $5.54 million in federal, corporate and private foundation grants to create community solutions for problems created by chronic disease and its underlying risk factors. The Two Georgias grant will allow Tanner and Haralson County officials to take a closer look at how access to health care can affect the county’s ability to more fully utilize its workforce.

“I can already tell from the energy and the passion that has come out of this work initially, there are going to be some great things unfolding in Haralson County over the next few years,” Taylor said.

More information on Get Healthy, Live Well — including upcoming health opportunities and ongoing programs — is available at GetHealthyLiveWell.org.