The Cherokee County Department of Public Health has received an impressive accolade for its work in restructuring the way it impacts the community.
The National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) named the department its 2017 Local Health Department of the Year (medium category) at its annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to a news release.
The department was one of 23 nominees from across the nation up for the award.
Executive Director Christopher Taylor said NACCHO recognized the department for its ongoing efforts to expand residents' access to health care.
Through partnerships with organizations such as Family Circle as Care, the county has been able to bring in more providers for various services such as pediatrics, dental and mental health that residents previously did not have.
Taylor said the department also has found funding for public education in areas such as breast cancer and diabetes, as well as overall public health efforts.
"We've been really involved in community projects working with city of Jacksonville, city of Rusk and others about safe walking trails, safe parks and community gardens," Taylor said.
The primary focus of the department has shifted to a more proactive approach, focusing on disease prevention, he said.
UT Health Northeast's 2016 Needs Survey shows Cherokee county has a higher rate of diabetes than the surrounding area, as well as higher rates of tobacco use, adult obesity, physical inactivity, teen births and sexually transmitted diseases.