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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Trousdale County now ranks among the top half of Tennessee counties in terms of health, ranking No. 41 according to the website countyhealthrankings.org.

Among neighboring counties, Wilson rated No. 2, Sumner No. 4, Smith No. 31 and Macon No. 72.

In 2015, Trousdale rated No. 86 among Tennessee’s 95 counties. A sustained effort has seen that ranking climb in recent years, with Trousdale rating No. 54 in 2018.

“That was our goal, to be in the top half because we were so far toward the other end,” said Kathy Atwood, Coordinated School Health Supervisor. “To have cut that in half is just remarkable.”

Photo courtesy of countyhealthrankings.org

Atwood said there were several factors to be credited for Trousdale County’s rise in the rankings. She cited health programs and classes through the Trousdale County Health Council.

“We took what we did with Get Healthy Hartsville and converted it into #1 For Life,” she said. “We decided to emphasize parents and kids in the community playing, because exercise can be fun.”

Trousdale County rated 47th in the quality of life subranking, with 18 percent of the county estimated to be in poor of fair health. The state average in that area was 19 percent.

Health behaviors rated 37th, with 21 percent of the county’s adult population estimated as smokers and 31 percent considered obese.

One area of poor ranking was in long commutes to work, with an estimated 47 percent of the population driving a long way to work – well above the state average of 34 percent.

“We have a lot of people in Trousdale County who commute and they do it in one car,” Atwood said. “The reason that’s a problem is if you’re been at work all day and you’re tired, the danger of having an accident is greater. Commuting can be dangerous.”

Trousdale County also rated No. 93 of the 95 counties in clinical care. The report noted fewer health care providers than might be expected, and especially a lack of mental health providers.

“We have access to health care in Gallatin, Lebanon and Nashville,” she said. “But when it comes to full-time equivalents, we don’t have enough for our population.”

Atwood said the Health Council was looking at ways to continue to improve the county’s ranking, with a special focus on improving mental health.

“That affects everything else, from taking care of yourself to exercising to eating right,” Atwood said.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure is also an area the Health Council wants to focus upon.

The annual County Health Rankings measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births in nearly every county in America. The annual rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. They provide a starting point for change in communities.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The full report can be viewed online at countyhealthrankings.org/app/tennessee/2019/rankings/trousdale/county/outcomes/overall/snapshot.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.