NMC Commentary

How did the Governor’s budget address speak to prevention?

I am pleased that the Governor acknowledged the success of RiseVT work locally and endorsed the scale-up plan statewide!  To hear the words from him was overwhelming as I sat next to the RiseVT statewide team.  He highlighted the work being done to embrace healthier lifestyles here in Franklin Grand Isle and said, “it is outcome-focused, evidence-based, and it’s working.” That is such great recognition for all the exciting efforts of our local RiseVT team, our community partners, and all the participating individuals, families, schools, businesses, and municipalities to begin to embrace healthier lifestyles!  It is inspiring that the Governor of Vermont, while addressing our entire legislature and all Vermonters about the priorities of State, included an emphasis on primary prevention through RiseVT.  Prevention is absolutely a key to a healthier future for Vermont and I appreciate the Governor recognizing that, valuing it, and speaking to it as we continue our efforts here in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties and as the statewide scale-up of the RiseVT movement begins.

In his budget address, the Governor opened his discussion of prevention by highlighting proposed investments in preventive care for mothers and children impacted by opioids and dental care for children. Later, he spoke of the need to invest in mental health care. Along with those priorities, the Governor discussed the work of RiseVT and a vision for an even healthier Vermont through prevention.  Here is the full text of his remarks about RiseVT from the printed version of the address:

This focus on community-based prevention isn’t a function for government alone.  In fact, RiseVT – a movement created and led by Northwestern Medical Center, its surrounding communities and state partners like the Department of Health – has empowered its residents to make healthier choices, encouraging exercise and eating better to reduce chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. RiseVT is outcome-focused, evidenced-based, and it’s working. That’s because Vermonters are involved in their own health. It’s tailored to meet each community’s prevention needs. So, I’m pleased RiseVT, with the support of OneCare, is expanding this model statewide.  Coupled with the state’s existing prevention initiatives and those I’ve asked you to support today, RiseVT will improve health and continue our transition to a prevention-focused model of healthcare that lowers costs and builds upon our reputation as the nation’s healthiest state.”

I share the Governor’s belief that Vermont is on the right path as we begin to put even more emphasis on primary prevention and I thank him for his remarks.  I also believe that advancing prevention efforts is something all Vermonters, regardless of political party affiliation, can actively support and it is refreshing to find something that easily crosses the aisle and unifies all of us. RiseVT serves to amplify local resources and accelerate community efforts to engage Vermonters of all ages in embrace healthier lifestyles. By investing in prevention, we can reduce the demand for costly medical treatment and improve Vermonters’ quality of life.

When RiseVT was co-founded by NMC and the St. Albans Office of the Vermont Department of Health (I am so grateful for Judy Ashley) in partnership with a wonderful cross-sector community committee on healthy lifestyles, we named it RiseVT in hopes that our vision of a healthier future would take hold here in our local area and eventually spread statewide o benefit all Vermonters.  The Governor’s words are another confirmation that we are on the right path.  It was so exciting to hear that 75 people participated in the recent RiseVT free skating show up event in Highgate and 41 participated in the recent RiseVT free snowshoeing show up event in Fairfax!  And so grateful for Swanton as we recently kicked off our Active Play Campaign! We have such positive local momentum and it is inspiring the statewide scale-up plans being developed and launched by the new statewide RiseVT effort based in the OneCare Vermont Accountable Care Organization.

I want to thank our local RiseVT team and all our community partners for the great work they have done around healthier lifestyles.  I also want to invite you to join in the movement!  You can learn more at www.RiseVT.com – and you can join us in person for RiseVT Active Play fun at the February 10 Healthy Hearts event at St. Albans City School from 9am to Noon.  There will be free health screenings, engaging informational booths, children’s activities, active play for all ages, and we are even expecting a visit from the Governor during the event!  No excuses … come out and play!  Permission granted for all of Franklin and Grand Isle to Play!  Please join me in the Active Play campaign!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer