Oregon Healthiest State Launches With Statewide Participation, Invites Communities To Apply For New Initiative
PORTLAND –– Almost 300 leaders from Oregon businesses, nonprofits and public agencies gathered today to launch Oregon Healthiest State, a cross-sector effort to collectively address Oregon’s most pressing statewide health issues, and make healthy choices abundant in every community — especially those communities experiencing the greatest health disparities. To jump start the project, Cambia Health Foundation has pledged to match $2.00 for every $1.00 donated up to a maximum contribution of $3.5 million. New Seasons Market today became the first to contribute under the match.
“Great changes are happening to improve health across our state and in our communities,” said Mark Ganz, president and CEO of Cambia Health Solutions. “When we commit to doing that work together — as businesses, nonprofits, public agencies and communities — we can do even more. We’re investing in Oregon Healthiest State as a way to expand what works, and find new solutions to persistent problems.”
Oregon Healthiest State is a cross-sector partnership first envisioned a year ago by Cambia Health Solutions, NIKE, Inc., Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon Business Council, with the full support of Governor John Kitzhaber. Since then, Oregon Healthiest State has hired staff, and has begun filling its Steering Committee, Leadership Council and work groups that will drive the effort. Oregon Healthiest State has also signed on a growing set of additional partners, including Elemental Technologies, Inc., Erickson Inc., Medford Fabrication, Oregon State University, PacificSource Health Plans, Stoel Rives LLP, The University of Portland, Northwest Natural and We Can Do Better.
The kickoff event began with Governor John Kitzhaber accepting a friendly challenge from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad –- who has led a similar effort in his state –– to become the healthiest state in the nation. (See video challenge at ORHealthiestState.org.) “Health and well-being is a priority here in Oregon,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “It drives our productivity, our economy, and most importantly, our ability to enjoy each day we have with our families, friends and neighbors.”
Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A, president of Oregon Health & Science University, explained the urgency for a new approach to improving health. “We have made great gains in health care and coverage,” he said, ”but if we don’t take another significant leap, ill health is going to consume our economy. The answer lies in creating a culture of health in our state, so that we support health in everyday life.”
Also at the event were hundreds of participants from dozens of Oregon communities. For example, Klamath Falls sent a delegation of 24 people representing a cross-section of the community, from the hospital to the schools.
Local community transformation and statewide initiatives set to launch
With Cambia’s leadership funding, Oregon Healthiest State is launching its Community Transformation Initiative. Built to address the 70 percent of our health that is influenced by behaviors and surroundings, this initiative aims to significantly improve healthy options in every community — from grocery stores and restaurants to schools and workplaces to the built environment.
Beginning next spring, every organization in Oregon will be able to access information and trainings to make places, programs and policies healthier. In addition, approximately 10 communities ready to take on their own communitywide transformation projects will be selected to receive planning, coaching and evaluation support. Two communities will be selected as demonstration communities, which further involves a local team to help plan and run a multi-year program and measure results. Applications will be available soon at ORHealthiestState.org, and a series of events planned for early 2015 will bring more information to local communities throughout Oregon.
Resources and expertise for the Community Transformation Initiative will be provided by Oregon Public Health Institute, and Blue Zones Project by Healthways—an evidence-based program that helps communities assess their health needs and create changes—and by other proven programs identified by partners.
Simultaneously, Oregon Healthiest State is developing statewide initiatives to take on the state’s most pressing issues. Using data, it will identify the indicators that, if improved, would signal a radical improvement in health. Informed by partners, it will then determine where added cross-sector activity could accelerate or scale results. Final indicators will be determined in spring 2015, and allies with experience or potential to impact these indicators will gather to explore what’s working and what’s needed, and to collectively design the focus, strategy and action plans for statewide initiatives.
About Oregon Healthiest State
More than 70 percent of our health is influenced by our behaviors and surroundings, while just 30 percent is influenced by genetics and access to health care. That 70 percent is where Oregon Healthiest State focuses its attention. This cross-sector, statewide movement addresses health and wellbeing on all levels — physical, mental, emotional, social, financial and sense of purpose. It will work statewide through initiatives that align allies and resources to take on the state’s most pressing health issues, and at the local level through programs to help communities make healthy options abundant for everyone. With input and leadership from across the state, dedicated staffing, and leadership funding from Cambia Health Foundation and others, Oregon Healthiest State work will benefit all Oregonians, with a particular focus on reducing health disparities and inequities and advancing racial justice through health. Oregon Healthiest State’s goal is that by 2020, Oregonians are healthy, health equity increases, and Oregon is the healthiest state. For more information, visit ORhealthieststate.org.