State partners work together to create healthier Vermonters

RiseVT is based on the work of a similar organization that has successfully driven down childhood obesity rates

Vermont’s health care community has talked a great deal this last year about what “population health” means. Today, health care is no longer simply about treating sickness, but also about encouraging wellness. UVM Medical Center has begun a journey toward helping Vermonters get and stay as healthy as they can be through a partnership called RiseVT.

RiseVT is a community collaborative that has been in development for four years and was launched initially in northwestern Vermont. It uses observation and experience to inspire Vermonters to make small changes that will have a large impact on their health, and it is carefully tracking the results. The initiative is based on the work of a similar organization that has successfully driven down childhood obesity rates and now has a presence in 29 nations.

“The adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition, poverty and addiction are taking an increasing toll on Vermonters,” said Eileen Whalen, MHA, RN, president and chief operating officer of the UVM Medical Center. “It’s essential that we empower individuals and whole communities to take action and promote their own health.”

The program encourages Vermonters to embrace wellness in all part of their lives so that fewer of us develop chronic illnesses. The St. Albans community has begun to see some exciting progress after only two years of following the program, and we’re working with our partners at Northwestern Medical Center and the state to bring RiseVT statewide.

Other members of this public-private partnership are Blue Cross Blue Shield, hospitals and the state hospital association, OneCare, government agencies, health departments, schools and workplaces. OneCare is funding an executive director and project manager position for the group.

RiseVT has hired staff to implement the expansion around the state and here in Chittenden County. To learn more, visit risevt.com. The site includes a blog with stories of RiseVT in our communities, and tips and recipes for good health.