An interdisciplinary project in Washington County designed to help residents improve their health and wellness earned the community a silver medal, the first step toward a full UGA Connected Resilient Community designation.

Several UGA schools and colleges, including Public Health, Pharmacy and Education, the Oconee Fall Line Technical College, Washington County Regional Medical Center and local organizations have presented programs to help community residents better understand things like prostate cancer, diabetes, suicide prevention and dementia.

Last spring Devin Lavender, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, partnered with the College of Public Health and the Mary Frances Early College of Education, to develop a comprehensive health needs assessment and survey of county residents that will fuel future research and help tailor resources to address health disparities in the community.

The survey will encourage future rural healthcare research in Archway Partnership communities and across the state, Lavender said.

“Our hope is that this survey can create a data repository that other academic faculty can use as a foundation when developing their research questions in the future, before going into these communities,” he said.

Michelle Elliott, director of the UGA Archway Partnership, presented the silver medal to Washington County officials during a recent community meeting.

“UGA faculty and students have worked alongside Washington County to assemble and analyze data, gather community insight, and customize a plan that will help the community prepare for future challenges and build on opportunities for growth and prosperity,” Elliott said. “The community has earned the silver medal, signifying extraordinary planning, collaboration, and partnership with UGA to build a prosperous future.”

Jayson Johnston, chairman of the Washington County Archway Partnership executive committee, accepted the silver medal.

“Our next goal is to (earn) the gold medal level of recognition on our way to full CRC designation,” Johnston said.

The Connected Resilient Communities program, facilitated by the UGA Archway Partnership, helps communities tap into the resources and expertise at the University of Georgia to address local challenges and become more attractive to economic development.

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