Tanner Health System’s efforts to help west Georgia become a healthier place to live, learn, work, play, and pray has garnered national acclaim.
The health system’s Get Healthy, Live Well community network is among only five such programs in the country to receive a prestigious 2016 NOVA Award from the American Hospital Association.
Community hospitals have an obligation to improve the health of the people they serve. The region Tanner serves faces many of the same problems any southern suburb deals with: fried foods are popular, cancer is an issue, and hypertension and diabetes rates are high.
“Like all hospitals, we realize we have to try and improve outcomes and the overall health of the community outside the walls of the hospital and outside of our clinics,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System. “We have to change the environment to which our patients return.”
In 2012, Tanner launched the Get Healthy, Live Well (GHLW) program — comprised of 24 task forces and more than 160 local, state, and national partners — to tackle these issues.
Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well is an ambitious grassroots network working to decrease health disparities, reduce obesity rates, prevent and manage chronic disease, eliminate tobacco use, increase physical activity, and improve nutritious eating at schools, work sites, hospitals and clinics, early childcare centers, faith-based institutions, and the community at large. Key partnerships through schools, business and industry, and faith-based organizations — as well as innovative community-clinical linkages — have allowed GHLW to reach community members across multiple sectors and have a broad impact on the region’s health.
A 2012 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped kick-start the program, which has seen 543 individuals volunteer since its launch. The program is still young, but Tanner has seen progress in partnering with community organizations such as schools, faith-based organizations, civic groups, and many others to change the habits of residents.
“We’re moving away from the traditional hospital wellness model and building partnerships and expertise with community-based groups that have an interest in developing programs that have the depth and sustainability to make meaningful, lasting change in our region’s health,” said Denise Taylor, senior vice president and chief community health and brand officer for Tanner.
Get Healthy, Live Well has expanded access to evidence-based programs like Kids N Fitness, a family-centered weight management program developed by a team of doctors and health professionals with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for overweight and obese children ages 8 to 16 and their parents.
Similar programs are offered to help prevent and control diabetes and other chronic diseases throughout Tanner’s primary service area of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties, which all rank above the national average for adults diagnosed with diabetes.
Key partnerships through schools, business and industry and faith-based organizations have allowed Get Healthy, Live Well to reach a vast number of community members, including through its work with faith-based organizations. Get Healthy, Live Well has equipped churches with toolkits, instructor training and technical assistance toward the development of policy, system and environment changes. Connecting faith with prevention and health has had impressive results.
Get Healthy, Live Well has also formed key partnerships with local school systems, teaming up to offer Power Up for 30, part of the Georgia Shape program that encourages elementary schools to incorporate 30 extra minutes of physical activity into each day. To reinforce healthy initiatives, Get Healthy, Live Well has developed multiple nutrition and physical activity programs for families. A new Menu It smartphone app even provides information on healthy food choices at local restaurants. The app can be downloaded for free in Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Recognizing the need for chronic disease management and prevention, Get Healthy, Live Well partnered with physician practices to develop a community clinical linkages model for referring individuals with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions to evidence-based community health programs. Get Healthy, Live Well provides updates to physicians on patient referrals, progress and outcomes. These evidence-based programs have been shown to reduce hospitalizations and readmissions.
“This is an honor not only for Tanner and Get Healthy, Live Well, but for our entire community,” said Taylor. “People from throughout our community have brought their expertise in a wide range of subjects — nutrition and healthy food access, tobacco cessation, exercise and fitness, community planning and policies, chronic disease and more — to work toward a common goal: making this region a healthier place for all of us. And when you hear the personal impact that Get Healthy, Live Well has had on individual lives, you know you’re truly making a difference,” said Taylor.
Other winning programs from across the nation included Baylor Scott & White Health’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at the Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center in Dallas, Texas; the Healthy Communities Initiative, East Ocean View in Norfolk, Va.; the Mobile Dental Program at the Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation in Houston, Texas; and Strong Beginnings in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Hospitals care not only for patients, but also work tirelessly with community groups and organizations to offer the most to those in need beyond the walls of their buildings,” said American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack. “The programs recognized by the AHA NOVA award inspire us all with their collaborative, caring approach to improving community health and wellness.”
Established in 1993, the AHA NOVA Award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their collaborative efforts toward improving community health.
The American Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association of healthcare provider organizations and individuals committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The association is a national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, healthcare systems, networks and other providers of care. For more information, visit www.aha.org.
To learn more about Get Healthy, Live Well and become part of Tanner’s effort to help west Georgia become healthier, visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org.