NMC Commentary

Is RiseVT Scaling-Up Statewide?

Yes!  The RiseVT movement that is accelerating in Franklin and Grand Isle counties has caught the attention of hospitals, public health professionals, physicians, and community leaders across the state.  The encouragement to embrace healthier lifestyles where we live, work, learn, and play is resonating – not only here in our area, but in communities throughout Vermont.  As a result, efforts are now underway to formally scale-up RiseVT statewide so that all Vermonters can enjoy the benefits of primary prevention.  As we do, it is important for you to know that our local focus on improving the well-being of northwestern Vermont will not waiver and our local RiseVT efforts will continue to amplify and accelerate all the great things happening here in our own community around wellness.

OneCare Vermont, the statewide Accountable Care Organization, has adopted RiseVT as a prime strategy for helping keep healthy people healthy and improving the wellness of all Vermonters.  RiseVT is aligned with and amplifying the message of the Vermont Department of Health’s 3-4-50 campaign: we can achieve a healthier future for ourselves and our families.  The Governor has been to Franklin County and has praised the work of RiseVT.  Our RiseVT team has been invited to speak to various groups and organizations from Newport to Bennington. That’s great momentum!  To turn that momentum into actual work to make the healthy choice the easy choice across Vermont, a statewide RiseVT organization with its own Board has been formed.  I chair that Board and am joined on it by a number of very familiar leaders from our region: Janet McCarthy, the CEO of Franklin County Home Health Agency; Win Goodrich, School Superintendent for Franklin Northwest; Pediatrician Dr. Deanne Haag; and NMC CFO Chris Hickey.  We are joined by leaders from throughout the state: Eileen Whalen, the COO of University of Vermont Medical Center; Steve Gordon, the CEO of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital; Don George, the CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont; Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine; Todd Moore, the CEO of OneCare Vermont; Beth Tanzman, the Executive Director of the Vermont Blueprint for Health; and Lisa Ventriss, the Executive Director of the Vermont Business Roundtable.  I am thankful to have such passionate collection of leaders willing to serve and assist in advancing prevention efforts across Vermont.

In recent weeks, the RiseVT statewide effort took tangible steps forward with the hiring of two experienced professionals to make our vision a reality.  Marissa Parisi has been hired as the RiseVT Executive Director and is known to many throughout the state through her prior role as Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont.  Emmy Wollenburg has been hired as the RiseVT Project Manager and is returning to her home state of Vermont after earning her Masters in Public Health and working in public health in Wisconsin for a number of years.  Even here in their early days, it is already evident they bring the expertise and energy needed to help RiseVT scale-up in communities across Vermont.  Going forward, in partnership with Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine, the Medical Director of RiseVT, they will engage communities in the RiseVT movement – starting with those hospital service areas who are participating in the population health risk taking pilot with OneCare. We envision community partnerships of the local hospital and the Health Department District Offices and leaders from all community sectors working locally on their local wellness priorities, all in the spirit of RiseVT. This scale up will take a step forward in the first week of February, when Vermont will hosts a team of experts from the EPODE International Network who will share their knowledge and experience and guidance.

During that visit from EPODE, our local RiseVT team will have the opportunity to work closely with the visiting experts as well. They will review and validate our recent work and help inform our upcoming focus on encouraging active play for people of all ages. These are such exciting times for RiseVT as local efforts continue to advance and the state joins in.  Here locally we are kicking off an active play campaign, please make plans to attend the Family Active Play Pop Up event at Swanton Central School from 5:30pm to 7:00pm on Thursday, January 25.  It will be great fun and activity for all ages!  I also hope you will join us for the fabulous Healthy Hearts event on Saturday February 10, from 9am to Noon as St. Albans City School.  In addition the free health screenings and educational activities, RiseVT will be there with an Active Play Pop Up – and the Governor is planning to attend in support of RiseVT with this Active Play Campaign and our efforts as a community to embrace healthy lifestyles!  For more information on RiseVT and all the fun upcoming events, please visit www.risevt.com!

What is your play?  Permission to play granted!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer