By Lynn A. Wade
Nevada Daily Mail
A little over four months have passed since Cerner Corp. and local community leaders announced the Healthy Nevada Initiative, a comprehensive web of resources and strategies aimed at carving out a culture of better health in Nevada.
Much has taken place behind the scenes in laying the organizational framework for the project, a framework built on what project manager Erik Gallimore called four "pillars," -- health (wellness), care, sustainability and technology, during a presentation at a Nevada Rotary Club luncheon on Thursday.
Although other communities have wellness efforts and other healthy living projects, Gallimore said, this is the only project incorporating all of these aspects of building a healthier community; and, he noted, the project has gotten national attention, which in turn could make it an economic development booster for Nevada, because companies "are looking for places where they can spend less on health care," for employees. Health benefits are a huge expense for employers, he noted.
Gallimore said there are many things about Nevada, too, that stood out when the company -- in it because of the medical software and hardware company's interest in wellness and the company's culture of wanting to lead the pack in innovations -- was choosing a town in which to locate.
Having narrowed the field to five communities that appeared very similar at first glance, Cerner's research uncovered some great advantages already in place in Nevada.
One factor, Gallimore said, was the extensive Nevada parks system.
"You have beautiful, well-maintained parks."
Nevada also had people who cared and were engaged in cooperative efforts, as "evidenced by who shows up," Gallimore said. The area had leaders who had "passion on involving the community to improve health," and presentations and interactions with local people were positive, and "very professional, very knowledgeable about the community," Gallimore said. "I thought you should know, that your community, as someone not knowing it very well, looking at others throughout the state, your community was very, very strong,"
Since then, Healthy Nevada workers have been building partnerships, building Healthy Nevada into a not-for-profit organization, vetting hundreds of ideas and options on events and programs, and so forth.
There are some in the community whose basic needs aren't met, and Gallimore said Healthy Nevada is looking at ways to support changing that as well. "People don't really think about being healthy ... if they're thinking about what they're going to eat tonight, where are they going to sleep. So there's a community problem -- how do we work on that aspect?" Gallimore said; the initiative is working on those types of issues, too.
He also noted that if children or adults are missing school or work because they're sick, they're not being as productive as they could be.
So, Healthy Nevada is making an effort to look at the big picture in terms of community health. The idea is to forge and maintain partnerships, as well as funding mechanisms, that provide opportunities for people to live an active lifestyle, to increase the availability of healthy foods, to educate the people about how to achieve better health, to build better communication between organizations and to make use of technology that helps health care providers by making comprehensive information about patients available to the provider.
That aspect, Gallimore said, "is in its infancy," but will develop as time marches on.
"What we really want to do," Gallimore said, "is to inspire and empower people."