Wednesday, May 25, 2016

“Healthy Communities Create Healthy Citizens”

On Friday, May 20th I was proud to be at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, NJ to announce United Health Foundation’s $550,000 grant award to the New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute (NJHCQI).  The grant will support the Institute’s “Healthy Communities Create Healthy Citizens” project.  I was joined by Trenton Mayor, Eric Jackson, Trinity Cathedral’s Bishop William Stokes as well as NJHCQI program partners from Jersey City and Cumberland County.

Valerie Harr, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, presented a proclamation  from Governor Christie hailing the project
The “Healthy Communities Create Healthy Citizens” project is a public-private partnership among local health care and community leaders who are working to improve people’s health and quality of life in Trenton, Jersey City and Cumberland County, N.J.  United Health Foundation’s support will enable NJHCQI to help local organizations expand innovative healthy-lifestyle and health-literacy programs. For example, in Cumberland County, the grant will support a “healthy corner-store” initiative, through which local store-owners will be incented to sell fresh produce and display healthier foods at the front of the store. In Trenton, the grant will support a number of health topic seminars at local food pantries and churches, where residents can “shop” at the food pantry, eat a healthy free lunch, learn about diabetes prevention and chronic disease self-management, participate in fitness-related giveaways and receive helpful reading materials. Residents in all three areas will have access to an online search engine that connects them to health resources and social services in their town.

After the grant announcement everyone was invited to join in a wellness walk and explore Trinity Cathedral’s newly refurbished grounds, including its labyrinth and butterfly garden.  Free lunch and health screenings were provided for nearly seventy-five Trenton residents and, thanks to the presence of one of my Optum colleagues, we were able to point a Trenton resident in need of behavioral health services in the right direction.  

Nurses conducted free health screenings for Trenton residents
As a local health plan CEO for the largest health insurer in the U.S, my job is challenging and often requires that I make tough decisions.  I am grateful for last Friday’s opportunity to announce a program that will help expand services and ensure that people in need have access to health and well-being services that help build healthy New Jersey communities.
Leaders and members of the Trenton community enjoyed a free lunch at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral following the grant announcement