January 6, 2015

Area leaders host community forum on poor health and effects on quality of life, economy

Leading business, health care and civic officials will hold a Nashville Community Health Forum at Vanderbilt on Jan. 14 focused on the chronically poor health condition of Davidson County and Tennessee residents.

Chronic, preventable disease costs Tennessee $6 billion annually


Leading business, health care and civic officials will hold a Nashville Community Health Forum on Jan. 14 focused on the chronically poor health condition of Davidson County and Tennessee residents. The summit will highlight how Tennessee’s decades-long position as one of the nation’s unhealthiest states poses risk to the economic potential and quality of life of Nashville-area and Tennessee communities, and will also identify state- and community-led initiatives to improve health outcomes.

The forum will be held at the Vanderbilt University Student Life Center, 310 25th Ave. S., Nashville, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Complimentary parking will be available in the 25th Avenue Garage on the Vanderbilt University campus. The garage is located at the corner of 25th Avenue South and Highland Avenue. Enter the garage from the Highland Avenue entrance to access parking for the event. Spaces marked with the event name will be available, as well as any open Zone 3 parking space. Overflow parking will be available in the nearby West Garage located at the corner of 25th Avenue South and Children’s Way. To access this parking, enter West Garage from 25th Avenue South.

Hosts include Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Business Roundtable.

Speakers and panelists will include Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor, Vanderbilt University; Dr. John Dreyzehner, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health; Dr. Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO, Saint Thomas Health; Rick Johnson, CEO, Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness; Matt Murray, professor, University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research; Dr. Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs, Vanderbilt University; Dr. Fred Ralston, Fayetteville Medical Associates; and Melinda Buntin, chair of the Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University.

“Tennesseans may not fully understand the depth of the problem and the consequences,” Rick Johnson, CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, said. “The cost, year after year, in human suffering and massive amounts of capital cannot – and should not – be sustained. However, [rquote]if we can come together and commit to addressing this important issue, we can help people change their unhealthy behaviors and ultimately improve our quality of life, reduce health care costs and the cost of doing business in Tennessee.”[/rquote]

“Vanderbilt, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, is also one of the largest private employers in the state and remains committed to its not-for-profit mission of education and discovery,” Zeppos said. “We are deeply committed to providing quality health care to our fellow citizens of Tennessee, including those with great financial need. Yet we must be prudent and strategic about finding sustainable ways to meet the needs of those patients. We are pleased to join health policy discussions like this one as we work together to find tenable solutions.”

The 2014 America’s Health Rankings, an annual report published by UnitedHealth Foundation, ranks Tennessee 45th among all states in health status.

A number of our most troubling indicators are even worse: diabetes (No. 46), obesity (47), physical inactivity (49), poor physical health days (49) and smoking (46). Tennesseans have a high rate of preventable hospital stays (46) and poor physical health days (49), stats that illustrate the high costs of workplace absenteeism, disability and health insurance costs.

The cost of treating preventable, chronic disease in Tennessee is about $6 billion a year, according to analysis by the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.

The forum will focus on four key areas:

  • A statistical snapshot of the health of the state, including the Middle Tennessee counties of Bedford, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson and Wilson;
  • A panel comprised of regional business, economic development and health leaders will discuss how the area’s poor health status poses a threat to future economic opportunity, quality of life and to state and local financial resources;
  • An analysis of Insure Tennessee as a solution for access to care for the working poor; and
  • Improving the area’s health profile will require local solutions involving health, business, political and civic leadership, innovative policies and increased access to care.

To register for the event, click here.