Community health assessment underway

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Over the next few months, Macon County residents can play a crucial role in helping Macon County Public Health (MCPH) identify important health needs in the community and the surrounding area. MCPH has collaborated with the national research firm PRC based in Omaha, Neb., to conduct the Community Health Assessment (CHA) survey with Western North Carolina (WNC) residents between April and October of this year.

The confidential survey will ask about residents’ health, behaviors, and experiences. Randomly selected households will receive a call from “WNC Health” and the survey will take around 20 minutes to complete.

Macon is one of 18 counties participating in the CHA across WNC. The survey covers various health-related factors, including demographics, socioeconomics, health status, disparities, behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and quality of life. This data is the basis for MCPH’s efforts to prioritize health challenges over the next three years.

Macon County plays a vital role in the regional CHA strategy, which is led by the WNC Healthy Impact initiative, a collaborative endeavor involving hospitals, health departments, and dedicated partners committed to enhancing community health across the region. The Community Health Assessment is supported by the hospitals of Western North Carolina and bolstered by contributions from the Dogwood Health Trust, and aims to collect comprehensive data essential for addressing regional health challenges.

The WNC Community Health Assessment survey, made possible through this collective funding, equips stakeholders, including funders, healthy impact partners, and policymakers, with invaluable insights to guide targeted public health interventions for residents across WNC. MCPH encourages all residents to take part.

“We strongly encourage everyone to respond if contacted. This initiative gives our community the chance to provide information that helps us address the most important health needs in our area,” said Jen Germain, Community Health Promotions Coordinator. “The insights from the survey will help us identify areas that need attention and guide efforts to improve services and support systems for the health of all Macon County residents.”

Residents of Macon County can also share their input by accessing the survey online at

Whooping cough cases on the rise

Macon County Public Health has issued a public health alert in response to an outbreak of whooping cough that is spreading across WNC. Six cases have been confirmed in Macon County, affecting multiple age groups.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that spreads through coughs and sneezes. Symptoms typically show within five to 10 days after exposure, but may take up to 21 days to appear. Symptoms of whooping cough start out like symptoms of the common cold and include sinus congestion, low grade fever, apnea (potentially life-threatening pauses in breath), and cyanosis (babies turning blue/purple).

If whooping cough goes untreated, symptoms become more severe to include a whooping-like cough lasting weeks to months, often leading to coughing fits or vomiting, labored breathing, and exhaustion due to excessive coughing.

Infants under 12 months and individuals with weakened immune systems face the highest risk of severe complications and even death. To combat this outbreak, Macon County Public Health urges all residents to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

For people who cannot or choose not to get vaccinated and develop symptoms of whooping cough, it is essential to seek medical attention and treatment as soon as possible to reduce the length and severity of illness and disease spread.

“All teens and adults should receive at least one Tdap vaccine. Check with your health care provider to see if you are due. Vaccination during pregnancy is especially important, as it offers protection to infants in their first months of life,” stated Dr. Allison Smith, medical director, Macon County Public Health.

In addition to vaccination, the Health Department emphasizes the importance of good hygiene practices, including coughing and sneezing into elbows, frequent hand washing, and staying home if symptomatic.

Call Macon County Public Health at (828) 349-2081 to schedule a vaccination appointment. For more information, visit