Cocke County, Tennessee is a smallish (35,662 citizens 2010 census) East Tennessee county that is 68% rural. It offers a great deal for outdoor tourists – the Cherokee National Forest, part of the Appalachian Trail, and numerous campsites and recreation areas. Also, it is the home county of Gordon Ball, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Incumbent State Representative Jeremy Faison has spirited opposition here from Newport Democrat Marjorie Ramsey.
Major occupations besides farming are construction, accommodation and food service, and furniture/wood products manufacturing. Some residents work in neighboring Sevier County. Cocke County’s principle cities are Newport, Parrottsville, Centerview, Del Rio, and Hartford. The Cocke County School System has 11 K-12 schools and one adult learning center. They have a website of resources for parents.
What Cocke County does not have is a secure hospital situation. Cumberland River Hospital is financially troubled, as are many rural hospitals. 2,819, or 7.9%, of the citizens are in the Medicaid Gap, while 27.4% live in poverty. It is no surprise that in only two years between 1992 and 2009 was the county’s fatal injury toll lower than the state average. In most years, the county rate was significantly higher.
The main point of this profile is to highlight the county’s health dilemma by using the Years of Potential Life Lost measurement developed recently. To explain this measurement, I will repeat the information given previously.
The average normal age of death used here is 75, and all the recorded deaths in each county during a year are considered. For instance, if a person dies at 25, he/she contributes 50 years to the YPLL rate. The latest YPLL rates are for the years 2008-2010. What we are measuring here is PREMATURE MORTALITY. Accidents and diseases happen to everybody, but, by comparing counties, we can get an idea of the county’s general health. For instance, the wealthiest and healthiest county in Tennessee is Williamson County, and their YPLL as of 2008-2010 was 3,839 Years of Potential Life.
Cocke County, with only a fraction of Williamson’s population, has a YPLL of 11,297. Only seven other Tennessee counties have YPLLs in this range. Poverty and travel distance to a hospital take their toll on all rural areas.
Cocke County residents concerned with this situation can contact State Senator Steve Southerland at email@example.com or can contact his office at 615- 741-3851.