Diane Fletcher

BLAKELY — One of the grants the Healthcare Georgia Foundation distributed earlier this month included one to Horizons Community Solutions for $70,500 grant to develop and implement a community health improvement plan in Early County.

Funded by Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s “Two Georgias Initiative,” officials said the grant will support the work of the new Early County Partnership for Health.

The Partnership is made up of more than 20 organizations, including Horizons as the lead organization, plus the county’s Board of Commissioners, Chamber of Commerce, Early County Family Connection, Early County School System, University of Georgia Extension Office, Pioneer Community Hospital, Primary Care of Southwest Georgia, Southwest Public Health District and other businesses, community service and faith-based organizations.

Officials said Albany State University will assist with program evaluation.

“We are so honored to have been chosen as part of this innovative program,” Horizons CEO Diane Fletcher said. “We are fortunate to work with such strong partners and we are all committed to helping the people of Early County improve their health.”

Gwen Houston, executive director of Early County Family Connection, will work closely with Horizons and other organizations to develop and carry out a community health improvement plan.

“We’ll review the data, gather input from community residents, and develop a road map that will lead us all to good health and a better quality of life,” Houston said.

The “Two Georgias Initiative” is the Foundation’s multi-year, place-based grant-making program designed to expand access to quality health care and achieve greater health equity among rural Georgians. Officials said Horizons and Early County Partnership for Health accounts for one of 11 rural partnerships statewide the Foundation has chosen to fund this year.

Officials said each partnership will develop a community health improvement plan during the next 12 months, and if successful, will receive increased funding to implement their plan in 2018.

“No one should be denied access to quality health care because of their zip code or place of residence,” Foundation President Gary D. Nelson said. “We believe this Initiative provides our rural residents the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of these 11 rural collaboratives as they craft innovative solutions to eliminate health disparities and promote economic development in their communities.”

Foundation officials said they are hopeful their financial investment will accelerate the impact of the collaboratives’ collective efforts. Each of the partnerships stands to benefit from more than $500,000 in funding and technical resources through the Initiative to support their work over the next several years, officials said.

Fletcher said it will take all segments of the community to make lasting progress, and new partners are welcomed.

“Positive and lasting change happens everywhere that we live, work, worship, and play. So, we invite all community stakeholders to join us in making Early County one of the healthiest communities in the state,” she said.

The Foundation has also recently provided funding for these organizations:

— Appling County Health Department (Appling County);

— Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition (Chattooga County);

— Community Helping Place (Lumpkin County);

— Cook County Family Connection (Cook County);

— Elbert Memorial Hospital Foundation (Elbert County);

— Memorial Hospital and Manor Foundation (Decatur County)

— North Central Health District (Hancock County);

— Tanner Medical Center (Haralson County);

— Spring Creek Health Cooperative (Miller County);

— Southwest Georgia United (Clay County)/

The Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities. It supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and health care among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across the state.

Horizons Community Solutions is headquartered in Albany serving more than 30 counties across south Georgia. Its mission is to create a culture of wellness that achieves optimal health for everyone. For more information, visit www.horizonscommunity.org or call (229) 352-9100.

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