Several decades ago, Georgia made the decision that all health and human services would be organized at the county level. For many years, public health, child and older adult services, mental and behavioral health services have all been located within county governments, multi-county boards of health or multi-county health coalitions. While across Georgia there are effective city and county partnerships, for the most part Georgia’s municipalities have “stayed out of the health business”. With so many organizations and institutions adopting a culture of health and integrating a social determinants framework into their work, it is no longer feasible to affect health change without engagement at the city level. Cities impact public works, infrastructure, housing, transportation and economic development, all of which are essential to advancing health for all.
The following diagram outlines the social determinants of health which impact our health and wellness.
By working to establish policies that positively influence social and economic conditions and those that support changes in individual behavior, we can improve health for large numbers of people in ways that can be sustained over time. (Healthy People 2020) This can occur from improvements in health outcomes thinking to strengthening collaborations between the
health and community development sectors.
Our approach to improving the social determinants of health includes analyzing the 500 Cities data to identify the most pressing health challenges in Georgia's cities; this offers a powerful opportunity to enlist city leaders and leverage city resources to improving our communities. The timing is critical because as Georgia invests more in improving health, those investments can either follow a traditional path—hospitals and clinics – or they can reinforce a culture of health, by investing not just in healthcare, but in communities and the upstream issues that can improve health over a generation. When people are not healthy, they are not able to be productive at work, in school, at home, and in their community.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS TOOLKITS
Our Health and Wellness Toolkits are designed to encourage a new way of thinking about public health by:
- Driving healthcare conversations at the local level between community health advocates, business leaders and government agencies.
- Strengthening community partnerships centered around data driven decision making.
- Having open community conversations about health equity and policy interventions.
Visualization Tools: We built a suite of data visualization tools to help the community and local governments better understand the public health indicators that affect the quality of life in each community.
The visualization tools include interactive and responsive maps, dashboard and tables so community members can explore factors that may impact short- and long-term health outcomes.
The visualization tools allow the community to tell their health story.
Our Health and Wellness workshops
This research is based upon work supported by the Urban Institute through funds provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this report are those of the author(s) alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Urban Institute or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.