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Do you think Middle Georgia is healthy? Here’s where Bibb, other places rank

This Warner Robins medical clinic provides free health care

Nurse practitioner Jaimi Norrell knows what it's like not to have health insurance. She started the Hands of Grace Free Medical Clinic in 2017 to serve Middle Georgia's growing uninsured population. The clinic has already treated over 300 patients.
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Nurse practitioner Jaimi Norrell knows what it's like not to have health insurance. She started the Hands of Grace Free Medical Clinic in 2017 to serve Middle Georgia's growing uninsured population. The clinic has already treated over 300 patients.

Bad news, Maconites. You live in one of the most unhealthy counties in Georgia, according to a new report.

Bibb County ranked 135 out of the state’s 159 counties in the breakdown of health data published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute through the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program.

Some of Bibb County’s neighbors, though, ranked far higher on the list.

Here’s where some Georgia counties ranked on the list.

  • Bibb County: 135
  • Peach County: 112
  • Twiggs County: 158
  • Jones County: 13
  • Houston County: 22

Why is Bibb County ranked so low?

According to the data, Bibb slipped further behind nearby places because of several determining factors that directly or indirectly affect health:

  • People in Bibb County die at an earlier age than most Georgians.
  • Only 53 percent of all Macon-Bibb families own their home, and 19 percent spend half or more of their income on housing.
  • 37 percent of children grow up in poverty.
  • Bibb County has the fifth-highest rate of income inequality in the state.

The county’s median household income is $39,000. That number differs based on race. The median household income for black residents in the county is $26,800. For white households, the figure more than doubles — $56,100.

“In Macon, you’ve got some really affluent people, and you’ve got some really poor people,” said Ericka Burroughs-Girardi, who works for the rankings and roadmaps program. “Those numbers tell me right away.”

Four of five of Georgia’s healthiest counties are in or near the metro-Atlanta area.

The top five counties, in order, are:

▪ Forsyth

▪ Oconee

▪ Cherokee

▪ Fayette

▪ Gwinnett

The lowest-ranked five counties are:

▪ Miller

▪ Clay

▪ Quitman

▪ Twiggs

▪ Warren

Twiggs County deals with several issues.

There’s a lack of public transportation, so getting residents to health care providers is difficult, for there are few providers in the county itself, said Christina Sikes, Twiggs’ interim county nurse manager.

“Twiggs remains largely agricultural,” she said. “When people are still working in agriculture, often there isn’t the access to health insurance and often the pay can be very low.

“What money they have they save for immediate medical needs,” she said. “We often see preventive measures that could stop problems from happening kind of go undone.”

The rankings demonstrated in the map above are for health outcomes, which measures how long people live and how healthy people feel. The group also issues rankings for health factors — areas like education, employment, income, air and water quality and access to medical care — that influence the health of county residents and could indicate future improvements.

Data used in the ranking system comes from the most recent reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, Burroughs-Girardi said.

Details of the full report can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org. The group also offers policy and program recommendations to address public health issues.

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