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Hale County One of Appalachian Region's "Bright Spots" in Health


The Appalachian Regional Commission is examining “bright spots” in health care, and one Alabama county made the list.

Hale County was included in a report of ten case studies where researchers from the Appalachian Regional Commission headed to areas with much better than average health statistics. They tried to find out why those counties were healthier, to see what other struggling areas can learn.

Hale County boasts a more than 30 percent better than expected mortality rate for COPD, more than 12 percent better than expected rate of infant mortality, and a 12 percent better than expected rate of stroke mortality, among many other indicators.

Hilary Heischman is with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who funded the project. She says one thing that stood out to researchers in Hale County was the community engagement.

“They really saw the presence of strong social programs and community-focused nonprofits. People start a lot of different kinds of organizations and things to help the community. They saw a lot of different people, leaders stepping up, organizations working together – a lot of collaboration there.”

Heischman specifically mentioned the Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization, or HERO, as a major factor. The group builds affordable housing and provides a variety of economic and community resources.

Other Hale County organizations mentioned in the report include Project Horseshoe Farm, which recruits students in between college and medical school to operate health and service programs in the area, and Auburn Rural Studio, in which Auburn architecture students design and build sustainable housing and other infrastructure for Hale County residents.

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