The Vermont Department of Health has announced the award of a $400,000 Vermont Health Care Innovation Project grant to the Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles and its new RISE VT program. The RISE VT grant award, which will be spread over two years, supports the development of a community-wide, multi-stakeholder campaign to improve the health of Franklin and Grand Isle counties. The program would engage people of all ages in better health by offering membership for individuals, groups, and businesses, through a point system that recognizes and encourages participation in healthy habits. As participants increase their commitment to healthy lifestyles, they are rewarded with higher levels of membership.
In addition to the membership program, RISE VT will also be the catalyst for several new community-based healthy lifestyle building blocks, including:
- Access to Care: improved access to initial health risk appraisals as a complement to Primary Care;
- Worksite Wellness: increased community and employer-based education and healthy challenges;
- Local Support: a network of health advocates embedded in the community to serve as ambassadors of positive change;
- Systemic Change: encouragement of policy changes and infrastructure development; and
- Online Tools and Resources: creation of an online wellness portal to serve as a central informative and interactive resource for the community.
The RISE VT approach was developed by the Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles, a passionate local group that includes healthcare providers, schools, municipalities, State agencies, local organizations, businesses, media, and more. The RISE VT name came from the group’s spirit of taking action to elevate the health and wellbeing of the community.
“Rise VT is an incredible opportunity to bring alive the vision of a healthier community using prevention efforts to improve health and reduce health care costs,” said Judy Ashley who Judy Ashley co-chairs the Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles with NMC CEO Jill Berry Bowen. Ashley is the District Director of the St. Albans office of the Vermont Department of Health, which is a co-partner in the initiative.
“This is a community-wide campaign that involves individuals, families, schools, businesses, and municipalities as well as looking at policies and systems. We are not creating something new but maximizing the existing synergy to make it easier for us all to make healthier choices in our daily lives.”
Northwestern Medical Center has also committed $200,000 in its fiscal year 2015 budget to support the RISE VT initiative and will soon hire a coordinator to begin implementation of the program’s structure.
“Northwestern Vermont has some of the most challenging health indicators in the State, including higher rates of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions,” said Jill Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our heightened rates of obesity and other significant medical problems result in increased costs within the healthcare system which could have been prevented. There is no greater investment we can make than an investment in wellness, prevention, and better health.”
RISE VT was one of seven healthcare innovations receiving part of nearly $2.7 million in funds to advance three core strategies adopted by VHCIP. Anya Rader Wallack, core team chair of the VHCIP told the St. Albans Messenger that RISE VT was chosen for funding because of a need to invest in initiatives that will encourage and empower people to be healthier.
This approach will help transform our health and our approach to healthcare, said Bowen. That forward thinking could set an example for the rest of the state, she said. “I want to thank the Community Committee for believing in this path and the NMC Board of Directors for the initial funding for RISE VT. I want to thank the State for their faith in us, for investing in our effort through the grant, and for trusting us to be a role model for the rest of Vermont. We named it RISE VT because we believe this is an approach which can be replicated elsewhere to help all Vermonters. It will start here and grow.”
Source: St. Albans (October 28, 2014) -- NMC www.NorthwesternMedicalCenter.org