North Central Health District


NCHD Receives CDC REACH Grant to Continue Work in Hancock County

Funding Works to Decrease Health Disparities by Creating New Public Health Jobs and Increasing Community Involvement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has selected North Central Health District (NCHD) as one of this year’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant recipients. NCHD is one of three organizations awarded the grant in Georgia and one of 31 awardees across the nation. NCHD was awarded $542,378 to implement community health improvement strategies in Hancock County through the Hancock Health Improvement Partnership (HHIP).

The REACH grant is awarded to programs and organizations working to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in their communities. HHIP works to reduce health disparities among Hancock County’s primarily African American population, which makes up 71.8% of the county’s 8,640 residents. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs consistently places the county in Tier 1 of their Job Tax Credit Rankings, which includes the lowest economic performers in the state. In the 2018 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Hancock County ranks 147 in Health Outcomes and 150 in Health Factors out of Georgia’s 159 counties.

One contributor to the low health ranking is the lack of local healthcare providers. Health resources in Hancock County include the county health department, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center, two private clinics and a dentist’s office. The county has been identified as a Health Professional Shortage area by the Health Resources & Services Administration. The county has a minimal health infrastructure with no hospital, urgent care provider or emergency room to serve residents. The closest hospital is 30 miles away, and during emergencies patients must be transported to neighboring counties. Hancock County has one of the lowest primary care physician to population ratios in Georgia at 1 to 4,250.

To address Hancock County’s health challenges and racial and ethnic health disparities, NCHD joined with community partners to establish the HHIP in 2017. HHIP is a group of citizens, businesses, organizations and other partners working together to improve Hancock County. The partnership was established to identify the county’s health and healthcare issues related to health and health outcomes. The recently-acquired funds will allow HHIP to further implement strategies laid out in the partnership’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) priority area of Healthy Environments. Activities funded through the REACH grant will focus on nutrition, physical activity and community-clinical linkage.

“We’re excited to get additional resources to support our mission in Hancock County,” said Julia Vinton, HHIP Coordinator and Health Educator with NCHD. “HHIP is a very ambitious group and we’re passionate about improving the health and well-being of our community. With the funds from CDC’s REACH program, we’ll be able to implement additional strategies laid out in our CHIP and introduce more health-focused opportunities throughout the county.”

Through the REACH grant, HHIP will continue to work towards improving Hancock County. Nutrition initiatives will include increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, providing education workshops on community gardening, working with businesses and organizations to develop and implement healthy meals policies and increasing access to breastfeeding supplies and support for mothers. The partnership will promote opportunities for physical activity in the county and work with schools by providing resources and education focused on providing children with physical activity. HHIP will support community-clinical linkage by providing information about local healthcare resources and establishing a telemedicine workgroup to identify opportunities and potential partnerships with healthcare provides.

In addition to providing healthcare opportunities around the county, the REACH grant will fund new positions within Hancock County Health Department. Each position will work with the health department, HHIP and various partners around the community to achieve the REACH grant’s goals of reducing healthcare disparities. These new positions include a REACH Program Manager, a Resource Development Coordinator, a Health Educator and more. Anyone interested in serving Hancock County in these positions is encouraged to apply online at

HHIP is always looking to grow. Hancock County citizens, organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and other agencies are encouraged to join the partnership. Interested parties should call Hancock County Health Department at 706-444-6616, contact Julia Vinton at 478-550-2483 or email the group at

The Hancock Health Improvement Partnership is funded by a grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation (Foundation). Created in 1999 as an independent private foundation, the Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities.

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