Georgia Report Grades Counties on Health Status of Minorities, Identifies Areas for Improvement
More needs to be done to address health disparities among minorities living in Georgia, according to a report released last week that graded each of the state's 159 counties on the health status of minorities, the Florida Times-Union reports. The Department of Community Health and the Minority Advisory Council released the 353-page report, which assessed counties on social and economic indicators; mortality; hospital admissions and emergency department visits; prenatal care and birth outcomes; primary care access; mental health care access; racial and ethnic diversity of physicians; and percentage of residents without health insurance (Armstrong, Florida Times-Union, 4/19). Every county received grades in each category.
Sixteen counties received Fs, and 14 received As. According to the report, the failing grades reflect high rates of premature deaths among blacks in those counties. The report also found that rural counties, which account for 118 of Georgia's 159 counties, have about half as many physicians per capita as urban counties, and "dramatic shortages" of nurses, therapists and nutritionists (Miller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/19). The health disparities in large part result from disparities in income, education and employment, among other socioeconomic factors, according to George Rust, co-chair of the council and director of the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine (Florida Times-Union, 4/19). In addition, some health officials attributed the health disparities to a lack of funding for mental health services, substance abuse treatment and public health, the Journal-Constitution reports.
Rust said racial health disparities have a significant impact on the state because of its large percentage of minority residents. The report called for county, business, religious, education and health care leaders to collaborate on efforts to address the problems (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/19). Rust said, "I would say that our fundamental underlying cause is our willingness to accept inequality," adding that many state and community leaders likely feel they do not have the authority or resources to enact change (Florida Times-Union, 4/19). The report is available online.