Breakfast serves strategic talk on healthDoctors visited last week’s Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast to talk about health and share information about a new program called Health Promotion and Prevention Partnership (HP3).
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Doctors visited last week’s Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast to talk about health and share information about a new program called Health Promotion and Prevention Partnership (HP3). It’s powered by a $500,000 grant from the George Family Foundation and Allina to each of 13 participating communities, including River Falls.
The doctors said health experts often ask the billion-dollar question about engaging in healthy behaviors: “How do you get people motivated?”
Part of the idea behind the program is answering that question from within communities.
HP3 seeks to improve health, define the roles of integrated healthcare systems, and conduct research to support healthier communities.
As the presenters and their representatives indicated, the question is: “Can we improve health outcomes over time by identifying modifiable health behaviors and providing intervention opportunities?”
Dr. Greg Miller from the River Falls Medical Clinic spoke, along with Dr. Courtney Baechler, a cardiologist with United Heart and Vascular Clinic and vice president of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
“As a cardiologist, 95% of what I treat is preventable,” Baechler said. “We’re ready to get at the root of the diseases.”
Baechler said she could hardly do the talk without mentioning obesity, determined by measuring a person’s body mass index -- height over weight, squared.
The doctors noted that a body-mass index over 25 means a person is overweight, prompting loud murmurs from the crowd.
One man asked why his doctors have never talked to him about being obese. Baechler and Miller said they, too, wonder why only about a third of overweight people report having been counseled about it.
Miller said with a smile that his patients sure hear about it, adding that yes, it’s true: “If you’re over 25 (BMI), you’re overweight.”
Baechler explained how extra calories stack up anyway, but especially so as people age and become more inactive.
She was emphatic that the astounding, rapid growth of the human girth has little-or-nothing to do with genetics.
The doctors said 67% of people are overweight; about half of those are obese.
Only about a quarter of people eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. About half of adults exercise as recommended, either moderately five times a week or vigorously three times a week.
Baechler pointed to preventable conditions like high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, stress, respiratory conditions and others.
About 23% of Wisconsinites smoke; a large percentage use alcohol more often than recommended.
Baechler said, “Really, so much of this resides in the individual.”
Experts are researching the best way for them to use their expertise to improve community health, and one of those ways is the new HP3.
They are looking for resources related to prevention and wellness and inactivity.
The program reaches out -- particularly to businesses -- to “create a continuum of wellness support.”
Baechler said about the program, “We want you to personalize it to River Falls.”
Baechler talked about the HP3’s background and its importance to local communities, the plans and potential projects in River Falls and how the business community can help make River Falls healthier.
The half-million dollar grant will be used over three years’ time and will prompt the hiring of two new professionals to shepherd the partnership.
River Falls Area Hospital Foundation Director and Community Engagement person Heather Logelin will interview people for two positions: A program ambassador to implement HP3 and integrate resources, and a wellness care guide to educate participants and steer patients to the right resources.
The HP3 effort also asks for the involvement of six-eight community leaders to represent the community, including local health-care professionals.
The presenters said the HP3 plan will include free biometric screenings for employees and their spouses, online progress tools, access to a wellness coach and other resources and information, including on-site seminars.
Participants in the program are asked to make a three-year commitment to providing ongoing feedback, provide an easy way for partners to communicate and to make some space available for screenings and large-group presentations.
Participating communities will also engage in conference calls, provide access to leaders, share best practices, evaluate the HP3 program and collaborate with those involved.
The health experts said it is likely that the community -- by creating some “buzz” -- can do much more to affect people’s behavior than doctors can.
The doctors said HP3 is looking to partner with businesses, the city, schools and other types of business, particularly ones that do not have a wellness plan already.
They reason that information, access to resources, coaching, screenings and more all work toward more employees feeling well.
That leads not only to better health, they say, but also increased productivity, less absenteeism and a roughly three-to-one return on investment.