Grainger County, Tennessee bills itself as ‘The Undiscovered Gem of East Tennessee’, and in many ways it is. It is bounded on the north by Norris Lake, on the south by Cherokee Lake, and bisected in the middle by the Clinch Mountains. This all rural county has three incorporated towns – Rutledge, Bean Station, and Blaine. Not only is it a sportsman’s paradise, with hunting and fishing galore, Grainger County is important in Tennessee history, with sites to share. Among other distinguishing qualities, it is the only Tennessee County named for a woman, Mary Grainger, the wife of our first governor, William Blount. In addition, visitors may visit Windy Hill Farm, which breeds alpacas – definitely not East Tennessee animals.
The Grainger County School System has six public schools, quite adequate for its population of 22,657. There are also a few private schools. Grainger County citizens work in construction, furniture and related products making (They are rich in timber.), transportation equipment, truck transport, agriculture, and education. There is even a Grainger County Tomato Festival.
What Grainger County does not have within its 310 square miles is a hospital. Citizens have to go to neighboring counties for major medical emergencies. There are physicians’ practices in the county. 1,574 Grainger County citizens (6.95%) are in the Medicaid Gap. 21.4% of citizens live in poverty.
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.
Grainger County, with a fraction of Williamson’s population, has a YPLL rate of 9,881 Years of Potential Life Lost. County deaths per thousand tracked the state average between 1990 and 2006, but fatal accidents are another story. They have been higher than the state average for all but one year between 1993 and 2008. Getting across as 310 square mile county when minutes are scarce has its cost.
Grainger County’s state senator is Senator Frank Niceley. Concerned citizens can contact him at email@example.com or telephone his office at 615-741-2061.