Georgia Healthy Cities Hosts First Workshop

Discussing Community-level Health

By pinalice | December 11, 2018, 3:12pm EDT

Georgia Healthy Cities, a Neighborhood Nexus project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 500 Cities Data Challenge grant, hosted the first of four workshops about community-level health and the social determinants of health. The kickoff event happened in Savannah, where more than 70 attendees, including health experts, community and civic leaders and residents discussed the multifaceted nature of health and wellness, inequities in health and how our neighborhoods shape health outcomes.

The morning session included panel discussions about the social determinants, including economic stability, social and community context, neighborhood and built environment, education and health and services. Panelists included: Patrick Pontius from the Atlanta Fed; Jenelle Williams from Global Health Action; Dr. Nandi Marshall from Georgia Southern; Philip Omunga from Savannah State University; Dr. Vallerie Cave and Peter Ulrich from Savannah-Chatham Schools; Betty Dixon from the Department of Public Health; Paula Kreissler from Healthy Savannah; Gary Rost from the Savannah Business Group; and Sister pat Baber of St. Joseph’s/Candler.

The afternoon session took a deep dive into health data using interactive mapping tools developed by Neighborhood Nexus. The tools paired the CDC’s 500 Cities Census tract-level health data with relevant community indicators compiled through a variety of sources, including the American Community Survey, Georgia Department of Health and Human Services and the Savannah Area Geographic Information System.

The 500 Cities dataset uses a multilevel statistical modeling framework to create Census tract-level estimates of 27 health measures in the largest 500 cities in America. These measures are divided into 13 health outcomes, including diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions, nine prevention practices, such as annual mammograms, and five unhealthy behaviors, including binge drinking and a lack of physical activity.

After comparing Savannah’s estimates with those of other cities, Neighborhood Nexus and its partners found that, relative to the country, many tracts in Savannah experience increased prevalence estimates of diabetes, stroke, COPD and low sleep. The interactive mapping tools make it possible for residents to directly compare these outcomes and risks with different community indicators related to the social determinants of health. Workshop attendees spent the afternoon using the toolkit to examine different neighborhoods and which community indicators they felt were most germane and surprising for the health issues at hand.

“We hope this toolkit and workshop will help Savannah’s residents and leaders gain a better understanding of the health and well-being of their residents,” says Bernita Smith, director of Neighborhood Nexus and creator of Georgia Healthy Cities. “Additionally, we believe care providers, health advocacy groups and local decision-makers can use this information to develop innovative policies and programs that improve health outcomes.”

Georgia Healthy Cities will host similar workshops in three other cities: Columbus, Albany, and Atlanta.

About the 500 Cities Data Challenge

The 500 Cities Data Challenge, a partnership of the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, encourages communities to dig into the 500 Cities dataset and design innovative solutions that address social factors influencing health, such as housing, education and transportation. Neighborhood Nexus was one of 10 organizations across the country to receive a $100,000 grant from the 500 Cities Data Challenge.

About Neighborhood Nexus and Georgia Healthy Cities

Neighborhood Nexus, a partnership of the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, is a data visualization effort that contains integral statistics on the state of Georgia. Datasets include county-specific information on demographics, economics and transportation. Datasets are updated frequently and utilize mapping, tabular and visualization platforms to create stunning graphics that convey integral statistics in easily digestible ways.

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