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Taylor connecting counties to health resources

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

Margaret Taylor recently left her position as the director of the A Step Ahead Foundation to go to work for the Tennessee Department of Health.

But fortunately for her, that didn’t mean she was moving to Nashville.

“My work is primarily here in West Tennessee, so outside of a trip or two each month for meetings or training in Nashville, I’m here,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a liaison between the state’s health department and the health councils of every county in West Tennessee, including Shelby.

“I meet with all the health councils and discuss with them what their biggest needs are within their county health wise, and then I try to connect them to resources that could help them combat their problems within their counties.

A health council for a county is a cross section of that county’s society to ensure all aspects of culture within the county have their perspective heard when the council meets about every quarter.

“Every county has one, and members of this council will include leaders from the health department, local government, business leaders, nonprofits, hospital personnel and anyone else to ensure that a quality cross section of the community comes together to discuss health issues in their area,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the councils are given the opportunity to narrow their three most important issues in their area that need addressing, and then those three areas are discussed at council meetings. 

“The issues are discussed in the meetings, and each council meets about every three months or four times a year,” Taylor said. “I try to go to as many of these meetings as possible to make connections with as many counties as possible.

“Because my role in these meetings is to try to inform the county officials of resources they have access to or grant money they could try to compete for to fund something they could use to combat the issues.”

Taylor said the topics of obesity and diabetes are two that are pretty standard across most counties in West Tennessee, whether they are large population centers like Shelby or Madison or more rural areas with low population like Lake or Decatur.

“Of course every county is different one way or another because you’re talking nearly a million people in Shelby County and Lake County, which is one of the lowest counties in the state’s population list with just a few thousand people and everything in between,” Taylor said. “But obesity and diabetes is pretty common, and we all deal with those issues because they’re all caused by the same things no matter how populated your hometown is.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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