NMC Commentary

How do we know RiseVT is doing the “the Right Stuff”?

We are constantly evaluating this question. Former Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services and former Green Mountain Care Board member Con Hogan, recently spoke highly of the RiseVT, our community campaign to embrace healthy lifestyles, improve the quality of life, and lower healthcare costs where we live, work, play and learn.  He said, “You are on a great path … I hear what you are doing and it’s the right stuff.”  That is high praise for our movement that continues to gain momentum here in Franklin and Grand Isle counties and is now being aligned to go statewide so all Vermonters can benefit from improved health through community-based primary prevention.

Con has had a remarkable career in both business and public service.  He has been the CEO of a successful corporation and is a director of the Permanent Fund for the Well Being of Vermont’s Children.  His website (www.conhogan.com) says “most recently he has been a resource to local, state, federal and other nations, working in Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Israel, Chile, Northern Ireland, and Norway in the work of finding common purpose and obtaining results in the well-being of children, families, and communities.”

As a member of the GMCB, Con heard multiple presentations from RiseVT and was encouraging of our efforts to foster healthier habits in our community.  Our local success has drawn significant interest in other areas of the state and OneCareVermont, the state’s largest accountable care organization, has adopted RiseVT as their statewide strategy to improve population health and reduce costs by keeping healthy people healthy.  Once Con retired as a regulator on the GMCB, the new RiseVT statewide Board recently invited Con to share his perspective and advice relating to RiseVT as a path to a healthier future.

After calling RiseVT “the right stuff,” Con reflected on previous successful health improvement efforts that he helped lead in Vermont back in the 1990’s and 2000’s, saying “we were able to achieve extraordinary results over a short period of time” and his graphs illustrated that, with “short period of time” being 5-10 years.  The progress Vermont made on reducing lead poisoning was a particularly striking example of prevention having a dramatic impact on health. He encouraged us to commit to sustaining RiseVT as “It may be 10 to 15 years before you really feel like things are rolling and a minimum of 5 years until you begin to see trends which might be real.”  We agree.  RiseVT has a set of short-term and mid-term measures that track toward our long-term health improvement goals.  We believe that ensuring we are aligned with evidence based practices (CDC, etc) and the four pillars of EPODE (Govt support, scientific approach, public/private partnerships, and social marketing support) we can begin to see improvement in that 3-5 year window on our way to sustained improvement.

Con made a strong point on how interconnected health indicators are, saying “These indicators are related.  We may not know the circuitry, but if you are making progress on one, two, or three key indicators, you can expect to see positive changes in others because they are all related.”  RiseVT has been focusing on physical activity and healthy eating and we have a long standing effort to eliminate tobacco use.  We agree with Con that as people adopt healthier habits supported by a healthier built environment within a wellness-focus culture, the benefits will extend beyond those specific areas of focus as our lives will be more attuned to wellbeing.

Con shared wise advice on moving forward, saying “Don’t try and do everything.  When you work with a community, pick two or three things to focus on there, as it is all connected.”  In alignment with RiseVT’s approach of amplifying what is working in a community and accelerating progress, he encouraged us to continue to focus on strategies of: creating a “common purpose,” engaging “communities and families,” fostering “citizen participation,” leveraging “service collaboration,” building “human relationships,” and increasing “public health style communications.” That is a wonderful affirmation of the path RiseVT has been pursuing!

Given Con Hogan’s distinguished career, expertise, and experience, it was inspiring to hear him speak of how prevention can make a meaningful improvement in a population’s health and how RiseVT is poised to do just that here locally and across our state.  I appreciate him making the time to share his wisdom and insights with us as he continues to advocate for a healthier future for all of Vermont. As we continue forward on that path, please join us.  Visit RiseVT.com, connect with us on social media, or join on one of our show-up events highlighted in the local media. Choose one thing that you can change to be a little bit healthier today than you were yesterday….it is one step at a time to “Rise” Vermont together to a happy healthier place to live, work, learn, and play. You are officially being given permission to play!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer