health-departmentMacon County Public Health, in partnership with Angel Medical Center and Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, recently released Macon County’s Community Health Assessment for 2015.

The Community Health Assessment (CHA) is a community collaborative process led by MountainWise of Macon County to determine the health status, needs, and resources of a community. The process is completed every four years in each county through the state. The Community Health Assessment provides data on a number of leading health indicators such as: county demographics, leading causes of death, chronic disease mortality, access to care, and health promotion.

During the Community Health Assessment process, community stakeholders established three targeted objectives for implementation in Macon County. These priorities include reducing the incidence of heart disease; reducing the incidence rates associated with domestic violence; and promoting economic development relative to health.

To identify the significant health issues in the community, key partners reviewed data and discussed facts and circumstances of the community. The following criteria were used to identify significant health issues:

• County data deviates notably from the region, state or benchmark

• Significant disparities exist

• Data reflects a concerning trend related to burden, scope or severity

• Surfaced as a priority community concern

The following priority health issues are the final community-wide priorities for Macon County that were selected through the process described above:

• Cardiovascular disease, also referred to as heart disease, was selected due to being the leading cause of mortality in Macon County. MountainWise of Macon County will work to reduce the incidence of preventable chronic diseases related specifically to heart disease to those that reside in the community.

• Domestic Violence was selected due to the increase in reported cases of domestic violence and sexual assault in the county. Promote the reporting and appropriate resource referrals for domestic violence incidents and reduce the incidence of domestic violence in the community.

• Economic Development was selected due to the increased concern and data related to community safety, education, employment, family & social support and income. Promote economic development opportunities that result in healthier lifestyle choices for individuals in the community.

Results of the 2015 MountainWise of Macon County Community Health Assessment will be widely disseminated throughout Macon County. Plans include newspaper and media press releases, web postings and presentations to hospital, health and other concerned boards.

MountainWise recognizes that each hospital located in Macon County will use the document as a resource to prepare individual organization’s executive summary and to plan for future community benefit contributions to their respective service areas. It is anticipated that these results will also be used for strategic planning purposes for local hospitals, public health department, as well as many other health and human service agencies in the county.

MountainWise of Macon County will use the assessment results to move forward with the development of a comprehensive action plan for each of the top health priorities. Using information generated, MountainWise of Macon County task forces will choose, design and conduct interventions to address the identified priority areas. To prevent duplication and to build existing services, the task forces will identify resources, policies, environmental measures and programs already focused on the identified priority. The task forces will then set intervention objectives and develop an action plan. This action plan will include strategies, a timetable and a work plan for completing the tasks. Tasks may include recruiting volunteers, publicizing and conducting activities, evaluating activities and informing the community of the results.

Macon County Public Health values the public’s input, questions, and comments about the Community Health Assessment and process. To make comments or ask questions, contact Macon County Public Health at (828)349-2437. In addition, Macon County Public Health maintains a comprehensive collection of community health resources. These resources include demographic data; local, state, and federal health status information; information about health programs and services available to Macon County residents, and a variety of reports, like the Community Health Assessment, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. All of this information is available free of charge for the public to view. Access to many of these resources is also available online at