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Nine KY Counties "Bright Spots" in Appalachian Health

McCreary and Wayne counties are among the top 10 bright spots for health among Appalachian counties.(Pixabay)
McCreary and Wayne counties are among the top 10 bright spots for health among Appalachian counties.(Pixabay)
July 25, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Several Kentucky counties are stepping up to the plate when it comes to rural health challenges. Three new reports uncover 27 bright-spot Appalachian counties, including nine in the Commonwealth, where health is better than expected.

Hilary Heishman, senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which released the reports along with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Appalachian Regional Commission, said the reports are a different kind of road map for rural health.

"It's very important to take a look at what's going right and what people are doing," she said, "and to build from assets and build from strengths and use local resilience and not always look at the downside in all of the problems."

McCreary and Wayne counties are highlighted among the top 10 bright-spot counties in the region, for improved drivers of health, including health behaviors, health-care systems, environmental factors and screening measures.

While each bright-spot county has a unique approach to local health challenges, Ben Chandler, president and chief executive of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said the common theme is improved community collaboration and resource sharing.

"When the health department and the hospital, for instance, work together, when the school system and the churches in the community are working together on health issues," he said, "it's going to give better results than you would otherwise have."

As a native Appalachian herself, Heishman said she understands the economic and social disadvantages of the region. She said she's proud to see such a strong commitment at the local level to improve community health.

"This report shows some hope and possibility and a lot of history to build from and in a lot of places," she said, "and I want the country to see more of that when they look at Appalachia."

The reports are online at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY