Is RiseVT Really Impacting Healthy Lifestyle Choices?

Yes!  In Franklin and Grand Isle counties, RiseVT continues to gain exciting, healthy momentum. More people are hearing about RiseVT.  They are engaging with our team at community events and visiting www.RiseVT.com and learning how RiseVT is helping amplify healthy choices and activities.  More individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities are joining our movement to embrace healthier lifestyles. Habits are changing: social media is abuzz with people enjoying active play and the pleasure of healthy foods. Policies are shifting: worksites are going smoke free, businesses are becoming breast feeding friendly, schools are addressing healthy food choices and physical activity, and municipalities are addressing walkability. I just love the walking school bus!  We are seeing early signs of improved wellness in individuals. Each positive step forward expands the momentum and draws others to get involved. It is exciting to see such energy around the joy of being healthier!

This wonderful progress, facilitated by the RiseVT team and so many great community partners, drew praise from visiting experts from EPODE International Network last week.  “What you are doing is incredible,” said Dr. Jean-Michel Borys of Paris, the physician and medical researcher who developed a best-practice methodology for improving health through prevention. “You are pioneers in many ways in taking a community-based approach,” said his colleague Pauline Harper of EPODE.  These experts were here to help our local Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles continue to align RiseVT with this proven methodology that is being used in 29 countries across the globe to successfully reduce childhood obesity and improve community wellbeing. The US Chamber of Commerce’s study on various models such as this essentially put EPODE at the top for achieving measurable results, demonstrating replicability, and achieving sustainability. Finding ways to sustain the RiseVT effort is absolutely essential as this is a culture change we are undertaking that will take time and continued effort to achieve.    

While we focus locally, our early success has ignited interest at the State level. Helping people stay healthy will be key as Vermont’s healthcare system shifts from ‘fee-for-service’ medicine (paying for each individual visit) to a reimbursement system based on population health.  We have formed a ‘Statewide Stakeholders’ group to look at how RiseVT might have a broader impact across the state.  This group includes decision makers from Northwestern Medical Center, Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, the University of Vermont Medical Center, Brattleboro Memorial, and the OneCare Vermont Accountable Care Organization.  As we explore the opportunity for RiseVT to broaden its reach beyond Franklin and Grand Isle counties and get eventually inspire all Vermonters to embrace healthier lifestyles, rest assured that the focus on our local community will not waiver. 

We are so serious about helping our community be healthy that we are leading a delegation of Vermonters to the EPODE Conference at the end of the month in Amsterdam.  There, we will have a chance to discuss how to advance RiseVT in a day-long work session with international experts; spend a day with one of the programs which parallels RiseVT; meet with other counterparts who have helped their communities, cities, and countries reduce obesity and improve wellbeing; and attend the conference to sharpen our knowledge of how to make RiseVT even more impactful, more replicable, and more sustainable. This remarkable opportunity is made possible by the commitment to wellness from the NMC Board of Directors and the insight and vision of Lifestyle Medicine Medical Director, Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine, the co-partnership of Judy Ashley from the Department of Health, and the executive leadership of NMC’s Jonathan Billings. It was also made possible in part by Sarah Sterling, my Executive Assistant, who organized their visit to the US and made arrangements for representatives from NMC, our local schools, the Department of Health, and statewide stakeholders to travel to this conference.  Sarah is amazing in her work and support for our mission. There are many people across the community to thank for joining this journey to wellness and for their in-kind investment in this vision. I want to thank everyone who participated in the EPODE visit. It was heartwarming to see large interested crowds for the local leaders’ educational sessions here and in Burlington. 

For each of us, healthier choices hold the key to more energy, better health, improved quality of life, and lower healthcare costs. For NMC, this is a strategic priority as we transform from being a traditional hospital that treats the sick to a true center for health.  For our community and our state, prevention efforts are proven to have a 5 to 1 return on investment by reducing the need for costly medical treatment, so the opportunity is real. The time is now. We are rising. There is a healthier future ahead, for all of us.  Please join the RiseVT movement! Thank you to each of you the communities we serve for believing in this mission and for making one change in your own behavior today to be a little healthier.  You all deserve it.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer