Vermont Business Magazine In the northwest corner of Vermont, a unique public health movement is integrating wellness and prevention into the healthcare delivery system in an effort to keep Vermonters healthier. Instead of waiting for patients to come to doctor’s offices and hospitals when they are ill or injured, RiseVT is spearheading a comprehensive, community-based approach to promoting good health and preventing health problems before they happen.
RiseVT is a community-wide initiative to embrace healthy lifestyles. The aim is to motivate, inspire and work with individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities to help them make small changes in their lives that will have a big impact on their health. The project has been in development for over four years, and implemented in 2015 in Grand Isle and Franklin Counties as a community collaborative spearheaded by Northwestern Medical Center and the Vermont Health Department.
The RiseVT program has become a visible presence in the community, seeking to engage citizens where they live, work, learn, and play. Some of the efforts under RiseVT have been implemented through “mini-grant” projects such as providing all libraries in Franklin and Grand Isle counties with a variety of different-sized snowshoes to loan free to community members and through school based programs and education where RiseVT trained 2000 students in 10 schools in bicycle safety. In addition, RiseVT has strategically placed “Wellness Specialists” around Franklin and Grand Isle to work with schools, businesses, and municipalities to create an environment where the healthy choice is the easiest choice.
RiseVT was recently formalized into a new state level organization to turn the experience and success in Franklin County into a program and toolset available to other communities in Vermont. The governing board of the RiseVT organization consists of leaders and stakeholders from leading organizations in healthcare, business, schools, and government with interests in successful efforts toward a healthier population.
“RiseVT has been a passion for our providers and community stakeholders in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, and represents the best of what we can achieve when we work together on helping people be healthy” says Jill Berry Bowen who serves as Board Chair of the new RiseVT organization, and also serves as Chief Executive Officer of Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans. “We are excited to bring this successful program statewide,” she added.
The RiseVT organization has announced the three leaders who will drive the mission to help spread the program statewide. The company will be led by Executive Director Marissa Parisi, most recently the Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont.
“RiseVT is a model for Vermont and the rest of the country,” said Parisi. “This model cares for our neighbors in their communities and promises to improve the overall health of the community, which is good for everyone. We look forward to offering support in meeting the health needs of our neighbors throughout the state.”
Parisi will work closely with Elisabeth Fontaine, M.D. who will serve as the RiseVT Medical Director. Dr. Fontaine is one of the first medical professionals to earn a Lifestyle Medicine Board Certification and is also a certified well-coach and OB/GYN physician. The leadership team also includes Emmy Wollenburg, a health research, communications, and outreach specialist, who will serve as the RiseVT Program Manager.
A key partner for RiseVT has been the France-based EPODE organization, which has spread to 29 nations with a proven record of driving down childhood obesity rates. Vermont is the first state in the United States to implement this model, which can also be replicated for other community priorities.
“We discovered EPODE through a review by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and were intrigued by their compelling results. The success of the evidence based methodology of EPODE can be replicated throughout Vermont. It is already working right here in Franklin County,” said Dr. Fontaine. “RiseVT is a movement for the greater good of all Vermonters.”
RiseVT has also developed a strong collaborative partnership with OneCare Vermont, which comprises an extensive network of providers and communities implementing health care payment reform and population health management under Vermont’s All Payer Model approach to health reform beginning in 2018. RiseVT and OneCare are partnering on an integrated approach to primary prevention, and OneCare also functions as the administrative partner for the RiseVT organization offering employment, support, and space for the new organization and its leaders.
“There is a national movement toward wellness and prevention as a major focus under value-based payment reform, and RiseVT will help Vermont lead the way,” said Todd Moore, CEO of OneCare Vermont and RiseVT Board Member.
In early 2018, RiseVT will be focused on documenting key program elements and building the tools and systems for use by new RiseVT communities. Activities to identify and engage with Vermont communities interested in implementing the program are already underway. The RiseVT organization and Board will also be hosting EPODE leaders in a February visit to Vermont.
According to Jill Berry Bowen, “This is the step we have been envisioning all along, and I know Marissa, Emmy, and Dr. Fontaine, along with community teams, are ready to make this a real movement in Vermont.”
RiseVT is committed to a globally tested model that engages public-private partnerships, community campaigns, and scientific advisory boards to achieve measurable and sustainable improvement in health long-term and on a large scale. RiseVT is a joint initiative of Rise Vermont, formed in 2017, and OneCare Vermont Accountable Care Organization that was created out of a project of Northwestern Medical Center and the Department of Health. For more information visit RiseVT.com
EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l’Obésité Des Enfants / Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity) is a coordinated, capacity-building approach to help communities reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. EPODE delivers programs on a local level that help create healthier everyday norms for children by engaging all members of the community. The EPODE model relies on the support and involvement of community stakeholders, including politicians, community organizations, teachers and health professionals. EPODE local project managers implement community-based programs adapted to the needs of each community, providing training, resources and scientific advice, supporting by a central coordinating committee including scientific researchers and academics and a local steering committee of community stakeholders.
About OneCare Vermont ACO
OneCare Vermont is a state-wide Accountable Care Organization (ACO) working with Medicare, Vermont Medicaid, and the Commercial Exchange Programs to improve the health of Vermonters. OneCare Vermont comprises an extensive network of providers, including hospitals in Vermont and New Hampshire, hundreds of primary and specialty care physicians and advance practice providers, federally qualified health centers, and several rural health clinics. OneCare coordinates the health care for more than 120,000 Vermonters across Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial health plans. For more information visit OneCareVT.org.