Tennessee ranks 39th in health, which is slightly healthier than we’ve been in the past, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Earlier this month, I was excited to launch “Healthier Tennessee,” an initiative focused on encouraging Tennesseans to become more physically active, to develop better eating habits and to avoid tobacco use.
Part of this effort is the development of the Governor’s Foundation on Health and Wellness, a non-profit corporation based in Nashville that will lead the initiative. Rick Johnson, who has served as an executive vice president of a Knoxville healthcare provider, president of a management consulting firm, and a senior executive at two publicly-owned Tennessee companies, will be the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.
The foundation also has a board of directors including top executives from the private and public sectors including:
William Gracey, Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee
R. Clayton McWhorter, Founder and Chairman, Clayton Associates
Perry Stuckey III, Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer, Eastman Chemical Company
Judith Edge, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, FedEx Corporation
Richard Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness
William E. Carpenter, President and Chief Executive Officer, LifePoint Hospitals
Jamie Woodson, President and Chief Executive Officer, State Collaborative on Reforming Education (S.C.O.R.E.)
Reginald Coopwood, MD, Chief Executive Officer, The Regional Medical Center at Memphis
Mark Cate, Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office, State of Tennessee
Larry Martin, Interim Commissioner of Finance and Administration, State of Tennessee
Wright Pinson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Vanderbilt Health System
The Healthier Tennessee initiative and the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness are results of work begun by the Governor’s Health and Wellness Task Force, which I appointed in 2011. I am grateful for their efforts in laying this groundwork.
Tennesseans have high rates of behavior-related diseases like hypertension and stroke, Type II diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer. There are also too many Tennesseans who are physical inactive. We’re encouraging Tennesseans to become more active, with the goal of moving at least 30 minutes five times a week.
We want Tennesseans to eat more nutritious foods in healthy portions. That means eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, leaner meats and less sugar and salt.
We’re encouraging Tennesseans to avoid tobacco use in all its forms.
Healthier Tennessee will bring together employers, health-care providers, health insurance companies, schools and community organizations in ways that promote healthier behavior.
It is a statewide effort, but we believe our best chance for success is to focus on local communities. It is important to leverage strong health and wellness programs that are already happening across the state.
Healthier Tennessee will use proven, best-practice programs and tools in workplaces, schools, places of worship and neighborhoods. We will measure progress and report results. We will have a rewards-and-recognition program for participation and achievement. It will include awards from the governor, a certification program for schools, workplaces, communities and faith-based organizations. It will include competition among participating organizations.
We believe improving the health of Tennesseans will reduce the cost of health care in Tennessee, and it will also improve our state’s overall quality of life. I look forward to the impact that healthier behaviors can have on our state and our citizens.