By Luke Brantley
GUIN — The Alabama Department of Public Health hosted a meeting at the Collins Life Center in Guin to discuss issues relating to health and healthcare accessibility in rural communities on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Carlene Robinson, the state health assessment coordinator, met with about a dozen members of the community and local leaders to discuss health-related issues they are concerned about.
“This is our initiative that we try to do every five years where we make sure that what we are pushing into the community is what the community wants,” Robinson said. “The last time we did this was before COVID-19. We made sure we talked to nurses, local officials and others like that. This time I really pushed talking to community members and getting your thoughts.”
Guin marks a departure from the other cities the department of public health has visited to conduct their assessment, which are Huntsville, Mobile, Birmingham, Auburn and Montgomery, which are much larger cities.
Robinson walked everyone present through the assessment, which asked residents to list some of their health-related concerns and why they felt the way they did.
The first question on the assessment concerned the amount of resources within a reasonable distance.
The general consensus was that between Hamilton and Winfield, access to care was good, but specialized care required travel.
“At a younger age, yes I could get most of the services that I needed here,” said Tammy Rhudy. “But as I’m growing older and need more specialized types of care, that’s when I have to go off somewhere to obtain a specialist in different areas. To me, a lot of it depends on the age that you are.”
“One of the things that we talked about in the last meeting was healthy food options,” said Keith Rhudy. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of fresh produce and things like that. Healthy food can be preventative medicine. It even helps with diabetes and things like that. What you eat definitely makes a difference.”
Guin Park Director Tyler Markham echoed that claim later in the meeting.
“That’s why I wrote prescription drugs,” Markham said. “I don’t want to put this on every doctor, but when there’s a market to make money on prescribing someone drugs for the rest of their life, you can see the angle there. With type two diabetes, if you correct your diet and work out, you can eradicate that. That’s something we should be able to know instead of being on medication for the rest our lives.”
Another topic of discussion was events and activities to encourage the community to get active and stay fit and healthy. While the city does have a park with tennis and pickleball courts, as well as activities for seniors at the Collins Life Center, those attending the meeting said more activities could be organized for the community.
Community members in attendance also filled out a survey indicating their top concerns about various health issues on a survey.
Some of the issues brought up were illegal street drugs and prescription drug abuse, along with better access to mental health care, depression and anxiety, alcohol and tobacco misuse, disaster preparedness, veterans’ health, child abuse and neglect, fruits and vegetables, diabetes and safe drinking water.
See complete story in the Journal Record.