Source: vermontbiz.com By Eileen Whalen, President and COO of University of Vermont Medical Center; Jill Berry Bowen, CEO of Northwestern Medical Center; Don George, CEO of Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Vermont; Todd Moore, CEO of OneCare Vermont.
As leaders of large Vermont health care organizations we are tasked with the need to treat the sick and the infirm, to do so efficiently, and to provide high quality care. We accept that. But we need partners, and with those partners, we need to change the perception of public health being about sickness, to public health being about wellness.
Long term, there is no other way to provide quality care, at affordable costs, to all in need. This understanding has to be embraced as a state, and acted upon if we are to make suitable progress toward Vermont being not only a healthy state, but a prosperous one. Wellness is as much an economic development tool as affordability; in fact, it’s the twin side of the same coin. Here is what’s encouraging; the structure of that sought after partnership is already in place. It’s called RiseVT. It’s a community collaborative that has been in development for four years and implemented for the past two years in northwestern Vermont.
It’s an empirically-based collaborative that focuses on results, things that can be measured and built upon. A key partner for Rise VT has been the France-based EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l’ObésitéDes Enfants) organization, which has spread to 29 nations with a proven record of driving down childhood obesity rates. This coming school year, that partnership will be on display as over 2,000 preK-middle school students from Franklin and Grand Isle Counties in collaboration with the health department will collect one simple measure (BMI), which will be useful to gauge improvement as the RiseVT program pursues its healthy lifestyles initiative.
Can you imagine the value of partnerships that would extend this data-based effort throughout all Vermont?