WINONA -- Health officials from Carroll, Montgomery and Attala counties met in Winona Tuesday and agreed to one accord - a healthier area in this part of the state.
Health officials, consisting of representatives with the Mississippi Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control, met at the Winona Library and introduced their Healthy Mississippi, a community health assessment, where a survey will be issued throughout the area communities in an attempt to put a stop to some of the health risks affecting this region. The region highlighted Tuesday was DHS' Region I, which consists of Carroll, Montgomery and Attala counties. Healthcare specialists from Winona's Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital, Winona Manor, Vaiden's Vaiden Living Center, Carrollton's Carrollton Health Clinic as well as Kosciusko's Montfort Jones Memorial Hospital were also present at the forum.
"We're engaging with the community and the public health system to promote a healthy area," Tameka Ivory Walls, bureau director of the Mississippi State Department of Health said. "Elected officials, correctional officers and health officials they all can play a role in this, because who else knows the community better than the people within it."
In this region, Walls said 1,125 surveys will be sent and expected to be completed. The survey will consist of an English and Spanish version.
A presentation by the Center for Disease Control's Dr. Georgeanna Brown showed where the three counties stood in comparison statewide when it comes to health related issues.
"Mississippi is first when it comes to the heart disease death rate," Brown said. "But there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the bleak outlook."
Brown's study showed the numbers from adults 18 years and older, where Attala County had the most in numbers with 14,478. Carroll County had 8,314 and Montgomery County had 8,255 adults.
In the health outcome of the 82 counties, the counties were ranked, based on a variety of measures that affect health, such as the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, unemployment, limited access to healthy foods, air and water quality, income, and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births.
It was Carroll County that ranked the highest out of the three counties at 18 out of the 82, and Montgomery County ranked 24th. Attala County was ranked 58th out of the 82 counties.
Dr. Alfio Rausa, district health officer with the MSDH was also on hand to offer his opinion on how the community interaction can act as a helpful element in health.
"Change can happen," Rausa said. "We have to get with the community, carve out a plan and implement it."
Rausa, who has been in the Delta health scene for over 40 years, said he remembers a long span when fire related deaths hit the Humphreys County area hard. He said the community sat with the fire department and later went door to door to get a grasp on the situation.
"They identified the problem, and smoke alarms were placed in homes," Rausa said. "As a result fire deaths in the area dropped dramatically. Healthy living is the same way. We can change."