Plans in place for Greenbrier County Health Alliance

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A planning group meeting involving key players in the health care industry in Greenbrier County was conducted in order to get the wheels moving to renew energy for the Greenbrier County Health Alliance.

The alliance would ultimately aim to provide a process for community and health resources in the county to collaborate as well as educate residents about certain health care issues. The alliance would also assess the issues most important (and possibly lacking) to the community.

“We are building this alliance on an effort that began in 2013 to help better the health in Greenbrier County and get people to commit to better lifestyles,” said Sally Hurst, the alliance’s outreach coordinator.

During the initial meeting that took place early October, Hurst shared health data specific to West Virginia. A Gallup report compiled a list of the most miserable states in the U.S. earlier this year, and West Virginia came in No. 1. Less than half the residents in the state describe themselves as thriving, and they report low levels of life expectancy.

The Greenbrier County Health Alliance is looking to support opportunities for making healthy choices easier and the improving perspectives on how people view their responsibility to make small changes in their daily health behaviors.

The alliance will establish a structure and process for evaluating actions that take place. This would allow the group to determine whether or not their strategies are effective in improving health outcomes.

Arnie Hassen, Ph.D., executive director of WVSOM’s Center for Rural and Community Health, said that the alliance could help elevate the county from the bottom up and maximize the ability for health professionals to offer services to the community.

“Health is a 360-degree, holistic lifestyle,” he said to the group. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘how do we address these issues?’ How can our community be energized to change their health?”

The alliance is in the planning phase (official members haven’t been set), and planning group members have big ideas for its direction. Hassen said that this isn’t just a short-term project and there is enough funding to see the alliance through for the long-term. The Greenbrier County Health Alliance is being funded in part by WVSOM’s Center for Rural and Community Health and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Grant.