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Vidant Medical Center and Pitt Partners for Health selected to participate in the Duke Endowment’s Healthy People, Health Carolinas Initiative

January 31, 2017 by Beth Anne Atkins

GREENVILLE, NC — Vidant Medical Center and Pitt Partners have been awarded a grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Pitt County. Together, Vidant Medical Center and Pitt Partners for Health, a diverse group of community organizations working collaboratively, are now one of 10 participants in The Duke Endowment’s initiative, Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas.

The program takes a bold approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease. Local coalitions will involve leaders from a wide spectrum of community organizations in developing ways to engage residents in improving their health.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is now expanding to five new counties—Brunswick, Henderson, Pitt, Robeson, Rowan—with plans to expand throughout the Carolinas over the coming years. The initiative began in early 2016 in five diverse North Carolina regions—Catawba, Chatham, Granville/Vance, Montgomery/Richmond and Wilkes counties.

Research shows that North Carolina ranks 31st among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, with two-thirds of residents considered overweight or obese. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.

“Where we live, where we go to school and work, how we spend our free time—even our ability to access fresh food and safely exercise near our homes—all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Dr. John Morrow, director of the Pitt County Health Department. “To truly improve the health of our community, we have to expand how we think about health. It’s more than just going to see a doctor or joining a health club or gym. It’s how our community is designed and how our worksites and businesses promote and maintain a healthy work force. It is nurturing children towards health and providing them a safe environment with adult role models who teach them how to stay healthy throughout their lives and pass it on to the next generation.”

“The Healthy People/Healthy Carolinas (HPHC) Initiative heightens the importance of health coalitions like Pitt Partners for Health and their significant contribution to addressing compelling health issues impacting all of our citizens. These funds will assist in further development of a framework to support hospitals, health departments, churches, schools, and other partnering organizations in coordinating services and resources that can result in tangible, replicable outcomes. Building on current work and success over the past 21 years, Pitt Partners for Health is well positioned to move population health efforts forward in Pitt County, with the added strength of evidence-based interventions and technical assistance by Population Health Improvement Partners,” said Catherine Dews Nelson, senior administrator for Community Health Programs at Vidant Medical Center.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step—and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant—is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, director of health care of The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”

Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.

“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Edwards of Population Health Improvement Partners, the North Carolina-based organization that provides expert assistance to each local coalition. “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward. The hope is that eventually the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”

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