Clinton Foundation ready to unveil area health blueprint

Published 12:03 am Sunday, April 26, 2015

NATCHEZ — The Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative and its partner, Humana, are ready to unveil its blueprint for creating a healthier Natchez and Adams County.

The ideas developed from a December brainstorming session of sorts will be launched at an invitation-only lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., May 14, at the Natchez Convention Center.

In addition, Humana will host an outdoors day of activities on May 16, designed to get Natchez and Adams County residents moving.

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“On Dec. 3, the very first time we got stakeholders together and introduced them to the Clinton Foundations’ Health Matters Initiative, we spent the day deciding on various goals to improve health in Natchez and Adams County,” said Getty Israel, the Clinton Health Matters Initiative liaison said. “We’ve spent the last four months working on the goals for health we established on Dec. 3, finalizing those goals, deciding what goals are feasible, making sure they are measurable and looking for partners and resources to make them happen.”

The aim of the program is to prevent chronic diseases and help people resolve their health issues, Israel said. The kickoff will feature the stories of Natchez and Adams County residents who have made modest lifestyle changes and reversed declining health.

The Clinton Foundation and Humana have made a five-year commitment to working in Natchez and Adams County with the goal of improving the community’s health by 20 percent by 2020.

Mitch Lubitz, a media relations leader for Humana, said Humana has launched similar programs in San Antonio, in Louisville, which is where the company’s headquarters is located, and in Tampa Bay.

Lubitz would not comment on what Humana expects to spend in the Natchez-Adams County area over the next five years to achieve its goal.

On May 16, Humana will host an outdoor event, open to all in the community.

“It will consist of flag football games, volleyball, Zumba classes, activities for children, a walk and a run on the bluff. We are encouraging people to bring a picnic basket,” Israel said. “This will be the beginning of many physical activity events. We want to have them on a regular basis, like every week. Not just for a holiday, but every week something should be going on to get people here walking, riding a bike, in a small group or a large group. We want people to start getting outside and becoming more active.

“We also want people to change their diets and will be encouraging restaurants to start offering healthy menu items. And we want people to stop smoking and will be offering programs to help them do that,” she said.

University of Mississippi Medical Center Community Health Advocate program is partnering with the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative in Natchez and will be training Natchez residents to be community health advocates.

Those community health advocates will be key to the Health Matters Initiative.

“One of the aspects of the program will be partnering with Natchez and Adams County churches to put wellness programs in the churches,” Israel said.

Each participating church would designate someone from its congregation to be trained as a community health advocate and that person would lead the initiative within their church. That advocate at each church would be trained to do biometric screenings, promote health education and would coach those who were working to make healthy lifestyle changes, she said.

“So the church will become a health home for its members and others in the community — anyone who is pre-diabetic or who has diabetes, or wants help to stop smoking — would come to that church and join a weekly group of other people with the same conditions. That person would go through a structured lifestyle invention with the community health advocate leading them,” Israel said.

Part of the Health Matters Initiative will be reaching out to Natchez and Adams County employers to begin wellness programs at work for their employees.

“We want them to begin any lifestyle change program that will target obesity, get their employees to lose weight, particularly around the abdominal section, and to stop tobacco use,” she said.

Any church or business interested in participating as a health home or starting a wellness program is asked to call Israel prior to the May 14 event at 601-487-6894.