TERRE HAUTE —
A $100,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation will fund a pilot comprehensive wellness program targeted for residents of western Vigo County.
The funding is for the “Pomeroy Wellness Program: A Heart Healthy Model for Better Health in the Wabash Valley,” part of the Better Health Wabash Valley.
The funding will allow individuals, starting in June 2014, and lasting for one year, to be enrolled in smoking-cessation programs, participate in physical exercise events and programs and obtain body mass index and cholesterol screenings at Terre Haute hospitals.
The better health unit was established in 2009 by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce “as way [of indicating] that we realized we need to create a healthier workforce” in a six-county region, said Ken Brengle, chamber president and CEO, during announcement of the funding Tuesday.
Working with Terre Haute Regional Hospital and Union Hospital, BHWV developed the Community Health Needs Assessment, which includes a detailed, statistical analysis of wellness-related data from Clay, Greene, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.
The assessment identified the most serious health needs of the six-county area as adult and childhood obesity, tobacco use and cardiovascular disease.
The three issues are nationwide concerns, said Tiffany Etter of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
“These things can lead to problems that are chronic. They drive health care costs, they keep us from enjoying life and are hard on the pocketbook as well. They can lead to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and a long, long list of chronic conditions,” Etter said.
A healthy and active lifestyle can prevent many of the diseases, she said.
“We want to affect behavior change over the long term,” Etter said. “We know this change doesn’t happen overnight … and it takes a community commitment, a lot of time and resources.”
Dottie King, president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, said the western portion of Vigo County “has limited resources and limited opportunities for people looking for ways to be more healthy.”
The Pomery Wellness Program partners with the Maple Center for Integrative Health, both local hospitals, the Terre Haute Children’s Museum and the Vigo County YMCA, King said.
The college will start with on-site health and screenings of students, staff, faculty, and residents of western Vigo County.
Deanna Ferguson, executive director of the Maple Center, said an eight-week program, Lifestyle Education and Food , educates people on exercise, and a diet containing more vegetables and fruits. “It helps reduce diabetes and obesity as well as high blood pressure,” Ferguson said.
Mary Ann Conroy, CEO of Regional Hospital, said the BHVW data collection provides a foundation of knowledge. “We are starting from a point that is objective. We will know how we move forward and know if we have success,” she said.
The community health assessment can be viewed
Dr. John Bolinger, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Union Hospital, said the wellness program “is a momentous occasion for the community.”
Bolinger said smoking is one cause of cardiovascular disease and strokes. And obesity increases the risk of diabetes. “If we can impact this, what we are doing for our community from a standpoint of health and reducing health care expenditures … is going to be something phenomenal, I think,” Bolinger said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.