Health Summit set for April 8 in Lebanon

The public is invited to join regional leaders in government, business and health in a discussion of Southwest Virginia’s health status at the upcoming Health Summit, set for April 8 at the Russell County Conference Center in Lebanon.

The event, sponsored by the Healthy Appalachia Institute in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Health, the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau health districts and the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, takes place from 9 a.m. to noon. The summit is made possible by a grant from the National Network of Public Health Institutes and the Office of Strategy and Innovation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The purpose of the Health Summit is to mobilize communities to continue efforts in improving health and health-enabled prosperity. The region’s health status, as noted in the recently released national county health rankings (www.countyhealthrankings.org/virginia), which compares local counties to all the other counties and cities in Virginia, reinforces the well-documented and longstanding health challenges faced by residents of far Southwest Virginia.

Importantly, it also identifies factors that are making it difficult for residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The rankings provide information that can be used to garner investment in programs, policies and individual and community actions needed to improve the region’s health.

The region’s leaders have been aware of the “diagnosis” for sometime and are being proactive in addressing and improving Southwest Virginia’s health status through innovative, community-based approaches. The Southwest Virginia Health Authority’s “Blueprint for Health and Health-enabled Prosperity” is a groundbreaking work developed from both grassroots efforts and key leaders in the region to tackle the region’s health concerns. In addition, the Healthy Appalachia Institute, the Graduate Medical Education Consortium, the region’s educational institutions, the Virginia Department of Health’s districts, regional health systems and many others are developing novel programs and services to improve the region’s health.

Those involved hope the region has started what will one day be seen as the turning point for health in Southwest Virginia that could serve as a national model for other rural communities.

To attend the Health Summit, register online at www.healthyappalachia.org. Links to Virginia’s County Health Rankings, the Blueprint for Health and Health-enabled Prosperity, and directions to the Russell County Conference Center may be found on the Web site.