Forsyth County is home to many health care workers, parks and other factors that keep the county healthy, and the area is being recognized for them.
A study done by financial website Smartasset.com found Forsyth to be the healthiest county in the state by looking at length of life, access to health care and health behaviors, such as smoking, excessive drinking and obesity.
“Obviously, I’m just glad that we have a community that is thriving and cares about their own health and is building its basis on that, which is great for everybody,” Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent said. “I just wish it wasn’t so hard for all communities to accomplish that.
“It’s just another checkbox that makes Forsyth County great.”
Forsyth finished first in length of life, which looked at years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 residents, and 11th for health behaviors, which took into account the percentage of smokers, obesity and excessive drinkers in the population.
“These rankings that we kind of keep coming to the top of suggest that maybe a healthier lifestyle serves kind of as the basis for Forsyth County residents, and their outcomes kind of show that,” said Lynn Jackson, administrator for Northside Hospital-Forsyth. “We know that things like probably increased access to healthcare service, both preventative and acute, are helpful.”
Jackson said there is a strong community across the county geared toward health and that focus helps in the rankings.
“I do think we have a tremendous infrastructure that supports all that. It sets us apart from other communities,” she said. “The collaboration between local governments, non-profits, the health care sector, residents,” she said. “I think you could comprise those all those together to say that is a collective web of support.”
Several neighboring and metro Atlanta counties also made the top 10, including Cobb at fourth, Gwinnett at seventh, Cherokee at eighth and Fulton at 10th.
Other counties making the list were: Fayette, Oconee, Harris, Columbia and Coweta.
Forsyth was also ranked sixth for number of physicians per 100,000 residents. Jackson attributed the number of physicians to the health care network and the local community making Forsyth an attractive destination.
“I think we’re an attractive position to want to practice here,” she said. “Again, it kind of comes back to this issue where physicians, like anyone else, want to be in a place where they and their families have access to excellent schools, to recreation opportunities, to cultural simulation, so we get a lot of that.”
While she was pleased with the ranking and the recognition, Jackson said the county’s work is far from over.
“Our director of nursing here always has a great saying that I love: ‘The biggest room in the house is the room for improvement,’” Jackson said. “So I think while we all look at our health services as being collectively very, very good, there is still opportunity for us to continue to push ourselves.”