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Hall ranks 25th for health outcomes among Georgia counties
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Danyri Clark, 9, and Ellie Prince, 9, work out during a free kickboxing class hosted by Gainesville Parks and Recreation Saturday morning at Longwood Park in Gainesville. The high energy class involves lots of squatting, kicks and jumps. - photo by Erin O. Smith

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To see how Hall County stacks up with the other 158 counties in Georgia go to

Hall County ranked as the 25th best in health outcomes among Georgia’s 159 counties, but most of its surrounding northeast neighbors rated better — including No. 1 Forsyth and No. 4 Gwinnett — according to a 2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.

Rounding out the top-five counties for healthy outcomes are No. 2 Oconee County, followed by Fayette County at No. 3 and Cherokee County at No. 5.

Hall ranked 21st in the health factors portion of the report.

Hall County’s health outcomes ranking includeds its ranking of 52nd in “quality of life” and 13th in “length of life.” 

In the health factors part of the report, Hall was 21st in “health behaviors”; 26th for “social and economic factors”; 38th in “clinical care” and 60th in “physical environment.”

Dave Palmer, spokesman for the 13-county District 2 Public Health Office, which includes Hall, called the RWJF County Health Rankings report “useful.”

However, Palmer said the report is just one tool the public health department uses “to identify areas of improvement for health status.” Palmer added that even the report’s publishers are aware of limitations in the quality of the data examined, including population numbers.

Nonetheless, Palmer said his office tracks the findings.

“We must therefore remember that challenges still exist in all of our communities and additional work needs to be done to improve the health of our communities,” Palmer said.

Northeast Georgia Health System did not respond to a request for comment from The Times.

Hall County’s ranking of 52 in the quality of life category was based in part on a survey in which 19 percent of Hall respondents described their health as being “poor or fair.” That topped the 17 percent in Georgia who said their health was poor or fair. Top-performing counties nationwide responded at a rate of 12 percent that their health was poor or fair.

Driving Hall’s ranking of 38 for clinical care is its uninsured rate of 22 percent for those under the age of 65, according to the report. That is higher than Georgia’s overall uninsured rate of 18 percent, and significantly higher than the 8 percent uninsured rate recorded by top-ranking U.S. counties.

Among the social and economic factors that contributed to Hall not getting a higher overall ranking was its 24 percent rate of children under 18 living in poverty.

“Children’s risk of poor health and premature mortality may also be increased due to the poor educational achievement associated with poverty,” the RWJF report states. “The children in poverty measure is highly correlated with overall poverty rates.”

In Georgia, the rate of children in poverty ranges from 7 to 56 percent.

On a positive note, the rate of adult obesity is 26 percent — the same rate scored by top-performing counties nationwide.

However, other health behaviors were higher than the norm, such as 48 teen births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, which tops the state rate of 39 per 1,000 teen births, and almost triple the 17 teen births per 1,000 recorded by top-ranking counties throughout the country.

Also, 25 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes in Hall County involved alcohol use, which is higher than the Georgia rate of 23 percent and almost double that of the 13 percent by top U.S. performers.

Palmer said improving the the health profile of Hall and surrounding communities requires changes in individual behavior. He said information campaigns help accomplish that by reminding residents about the importance of immunizations, protecting against against infectious diseases, and undergoing screenings for various types of cancer and chronic illnesses.    

“Through proper messages, public health encourages people to eat healthy and be more active,” Palmer said.

Based in Princeton, N.J., the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has for more than 40 years worked toward improving health and longevity in the United States. The recently released ranking of healthiest counties is its eighth such list and is prepared in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.