Thomaston Times (03.18.13)
According to the Community Health Needs Assessment Study, which worked with community participants, the state of Georgia ranks among the top 10 states in the country with the highest rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Georgia’s Upson County has more cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia than the state’s average case amounts, and more black women and men are affected than white. The study noted that the majority of cases affect persons 18–24 years of age. Antibiotics make both gonorrhea and chlamydia easily treatable and curable. Many people, however, show no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected, thereby spreading the diseases to others.
Georgia ranks number 13 in the United States for teen pregnancy, with Upson County ranking higher than other counties. The top three excuses teenagers gave for not using contraceptives were that they did not mind if they got pregnant; they did not think they could get pregnant at the time; or their partner did not want to use anything. Remaining anonymous in seeking birth control methods is a problem in a small town. Also, the schools teach abstinence-only education, which means that students cannot discuss any other methods in school and thus need referrals to the health department to do so.
The study examined teenagers’ use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco and found that while all three are used in Upson County, the usage is below the state and national average. The Thomaston-Upson Schools health survey polled students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12, and found that marijuana use has been on the rise throughout the last few years; locally, 12.5 percent of teenagers have used the drug. Methamphetamine use is also rising; 1.5 percent of teens have used it. Regarding alcohol, 17.7 percent of teens have participated in binge drinking, and 5.8 percent admitted to drinking and driving. For smoking, 17.2 percent of youth have smoked cigarettes; however, as a whole, Georgia is below the national average.
Following the work with community participants, a list of priorities was developed. The Upson Regional Medical Center’s Community Health Steering Committee agreed with the top community priorities. To view the Community Health Needs Assessment, and the resulting priorities, visit http://www.urmc.org/system/media_files/attachments/39/original/URMC_Report_Finalb.pdf?1355327495.