SNEEDVILLE — For more than two decades, Tennessee’s County Health Councils have provided critical leadership in bringing people together to improve health outcomes in our communities.

In January 2019 Tennessee became one of the first states in the nation to launch a community-informed, county-level health assessment process called the County Health Assessment or CHA initiative.

By participating in Tennessee’s first round of CHAs with the Tennessee Department of Health, the Hancock County Health Council has identified the county’s top health priorities they will work to address over the next three years. The priorities include:

• Substance Abuse;

• Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); and,

• Health Literacy.

The Hancock Co. Health Council includes individuals with backgrounds in health care, education, local government, business, public health and other areas. The CHA process challenges health councils to engage with local stakeholders in order to gather relevant data and listen to residents’ health concerns. Now that these priorities have been identified, the Council will review strategies that can be adapted and implemented to address these health priorities.

“The goal of our health council is to improve availability, accessibility and affordability of quality health care and the County Health Assessment has been a great way to identify health concerns in Hancock County and improve the health of the people who live here.” said Sonya Winkle, Hancock Co. Health Educator.

“Each county has different health priorities and the CHA process has been extremely valuable to identify these priorities and to bring community partners together to find solutions that will improve the health of people in Hancock County.” said Garnet Southerland, County Health Department Director.

Hancock County is one of 16 counties in Tennessee participating in this year’s County Health Assessment and over the next three years, all 89 rural counties in Tennessee will conduct a CHA.

The results from these assessments will be used to support the TDH mission to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee.

From start to finish, the CHA process puts community members in the driver’s seat and creates an exciting opportunity for communities to come together to identify and address local health issues.

For more information on Hancock County’s CHA, visit www.tn.gov/vitalsigns or contact the Hancock County Health Department at 423-733-2228.