Two communities find healthy solutions that work

Two communities find healthy solutions that work
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Welcome to Healthy Communities News — where we highlight communities that are finding innovative solutions to solve local health challenges. Our first episode features communities battling two common and persistent problems: food deserts and heart disease. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the East End Pop Up Market gives residents easy access to fresh food for the first time in four decades. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, church leaders are mixing faith with fitness to stem the tide of heart disease and diabetes in their congregations.


New market gives Bridgeport residents access to fresh food

As the economy struggles and poverty rises in Bridgeport, manufacturing jobs are not the only thing leaving town: Residents have had to go farther and farther to find fresh food. But a group of local businesspeople is looking to reverse that trend. They’re opening the new East End Pop-Up Market, which will offer not only fresh food, but also job training and wellness workshops. It’s a solution that can be a model for food deserts across the country.


Bridgeport market gives entrepreneurs a jump start

Small businesses can revitalize neighborhoods – so the Bridgeport OIC is lending a hand to local entrepreneurs. We talk to Jeff Nelson of Seeding Knowledge, a start-up that plants and maintains gardens and sells produce. He’s expanding his services to the East End Pop-Up Market, where he’ll offer not only fruits and vegetables, but cooking classes and gardening instruction.


Faith begets fitness in Mecklenburg County

Faith leaders, county health officials, the local health system and community groups have proven that it takes a village to address local health issues. The Village HeartBEAT program created a fitness challenge in local congregations. The goal? To help residents battling heart disease and diabetes. The program uses exercise, nutrition and community gardens to help raise the spirits and lower the weight of participants.

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Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana

Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana
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Much like the neighborhood for which it is named, the Live Healthy Little Havana program is a mix of many different elements. It’s a community-led initiative, a partnership with the government, a collaboration with health organizations and an effort to improve resident/police relations — all rolled into one.

To really know what a community needs, you have to live there. Talk with your neighbors over the back fence. See the issues with your own eyes. That’s what makes the Live Healthy Little Havana program a success.

Neighborhood residents, working as community liaisons, are at the heart of the work to improve life for those in the community. And everyone’s got a seat at the table, from government representatives to health workers to lifelong residents. It’s a model that’s driving change — and one that other communities can replicate.

Live Healthy Little Havana participants are working on multiple fronts toward a single goal — to improve life for the residents of this storied community. We showed up at one of their events to hear about how it’s working — and watched as kids from the neighborhood vied to be the first to get the local police commander into the dunk tank.

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Building trust and rebuilding a community in Louisville

Building trust and rebuilding a community in Louisville
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Healthy Communities News spotlights local people with local solutions to health challenges in their communities. In Louisville, Kentucky, the shadow of segregation and the city’s past reluctance to invest in a historically black community have left many residents distrustful of government. But now, a group of longtime residents are driving efforts to help revitalize their neighborhood — and they’re doing it in partnership with the government. Together, they are creating programs like the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative — which, among other things, helps local kids learn about and experience nature. Because many local families don’t have easy access to parks or forests, the initiative brings nature to the children with a project called ECHO — Engaging Children in the Outdoors. We visited Louisville to learn more.

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Aetna Announces the 2019 Voices of Health Competition Winners

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HARTFORD, Conn. Aetna, a CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) company, today announced the winners of the 2019 Voices of Health competition, a celebration of grassroots non-profit organizations across the country that are working to address social determinants of health in their communities.

The 102 participating non-profits promote health and well-being by addressing a wide range of community issues such as childhood obesity, access to affordable prescriptions and health care services, and providing food to the homeless, just to name a few. Each organization launched an online voting campaign – soliciting votes via their social media channels as well as through other marketing strategies - in their respective communities to compete for a $20,000 prize, among other prizes. In total, Aetna awarded $410K in grants to community organizations through the 2019 Voices of Health competition.

“The purpose of this competition is to support local non-profits and their missions to improve health and well-being in our communities, who go above and beyond where they can, and the winners this year do just that,” said Floyd Green, vice president of Aetna Community Affairs. “We believe that addressing health concerns outside of the doctor’s office is crucial to overall health and well-being and the reason why these organizations are singled out for their achievements. We are proud of their efforts and congratulate them all.”

The winners of the 2019 Voices of Health competition are:

  • House of Dawn, Atlanta, GA

  • New Hope Ministries, Central Pennsylvania

  • empowHERment, Charlotte, NC

  • Talbert House, Cincinnati, OH

  • Providence House, Inc., Cleveland, OH

  • Speak Project, Columbus, OH

  • Covenant Community Care, Detroit, MI

  • Exceptional Parents Unlimited Inc., Fresno, CA

  • Family Ties Family Resource Services, Houston, TX

  • Janet Goeske Foundation, Inland Empire, CA

  • The Arc Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL

  • YouthCare, King County, WA

  • Hope Street Margolis Family Center, Los Angeles, CA

  • Home of the Innocents, Louisville, KY

  • Haitian Youth and Community Center of Florida, Inc., Miami, FL

  • Jawonio, New York, NY

  • Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center, New York, NY

  • Children Crisis Treatment Center, Philadelphia, PA

  • East End Cooperative Ministry, Pittsburgh, PA

  • Via Services, Santa Clara, CA

  • Tacoma Community House, Tacoma, WA

“The videos created by each non-profit are incredibly powerful. Each tells an insightful story,” said Green. “It’s a great reminder of how local grassroots organizations can and do have tremendous, positive social impact.”The finalists in the competition were required to develop a short video explaining how their organization is making a difference where they operate locally. Each group was responsible for soliciting votes in a number of different ways, including sharing their videos through social media and other communication channels and directing voters to www.aetnavoicesofhealth.com.

The Voices of Health program is aligned with “Destination: Health,” a series of CVS Health business programs with an enhanced focus on helping people improve their health outside of a clinical setting.

About Aetna

Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 39 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

Media Contact

Katherine Wetzel
404-859-0703
wetzelk@aetna.com

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CVS Health Announces $2.5 Million in New Funding to Help Build Healthier Communities in Ohio

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Investments will support key initiatives across the state including increasing access to health care, preventing prescription opioid misuse and supporting tobacco-free living for at-risk populations

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – As part of its commitment to building healthier communities, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced it and its private charity will be donating more than $2.5 million in Ohio over the next three years to improve the health and wellness of Ohioans across the state.

The new funding from CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation will help support Ohio nonprofits as they tackle critical health issues that the state is currently facing. Grants to a number of different organizations will focus on mitigating prescription opioid abuse and misuse, expanding access to health care for underinsured and uninsured populations, and helping people to quit smoking. The company is also committed to expanding its workforce presence and training programs within Ohio.

“We can help improve the health outcomes of our communities by strengthening our local support and empowering local organizations that are developing innovative solutions,” said Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, CVS Health. “The organizations we are working with are truly dedicated to addressing the key public health issues in the state of Ohio and can help people on their path to better health.”

Expanding access to affordable, quality care

Through a new $1.5 million donation over three years to the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, CVS Health will help provide convenient access to care for more than 52,000 underserved Ohioans each year. The new grant program will allow the more than 60 free clinics across the state to increase capacity through additional staffing support, education and training for clinic teams. The funds will also be used to create new programming that will do more to support chronic disease management and address social determinants of health. 

Helping to combat opioid misuse and abuse

To help veterans impacted by opioid misuse, the CVS Health Foundation has made a $100,000 grant to Easterseals of Cincinnati, over two years, to provide immersive community-based care, including mental health and recovery services for veterans. 

CVS Pharmacy, the retail business of CVS Health, has also expanded its Safe Medication program in Ohio to 82 new locations during 2019, bringing the total number of in-store and community medication disposal units across the state to nearly 200. CVS Pharmacy has also expanded its successful Pharmacists Teach program to engage more than 500 Ohio youth and their parents on the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Delivering the first tobacco-free generation

As part of the company’s $50 million, Be The First initiative to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation, CVS Health is also committing $500,000 to the American Lung Association to help Ohioans quit smoking. The new donation will provide more than a quarter million Ohio Managed Medicaid plan members access to tobacco cessation services in 2019 and 2020 – especially important, since it is estimated that nearly 32 percent of all Medicaid patients nationwide smoke. Through the new partnership with the American Lung Association, participants will receive a one-year membership to the successful Freedom from Smoking program, which includes online cessation modules and access to the Lung Help Line.

Additionally, CVS Health is providing the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics with a $30,000 grant to incorporate a youth tobacco screening tool to assist health care providers in identifying adolescent smoking/vaping behavior and smoke exposure, and to equip health care providers with resources to share with their patients and caregivers.

In addition to supporting local nonprofits, CVS Health is also committed to expanding and enhancing its workforce programs in the state of Ohio to help find meaningful employment for veterans, individuals with disabilities, as well as youth and mature workers. The company recently opened a new WITC (Workforce Innovation & Talent Center) in Cleveland (video available), and this year has opened six other training sites across the state in Cleveland, Youngstown, Middleburg Heights, Cincinnati, Painesville, and Lewis Center. CVS Health will also continue to work with community partners, such as Centers for Families and Children, Goodwill Industries, Baldwin Wallace University and local high schools across the state, to support the growing needs of the Ohio workforce. 

“Our continued investments to local non-profits and our workforce are key to making a meaningful impact on the lives of the people of Ohio,” said David Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies, and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health. “We are committed to working with these organizations to expand the delivery of care and build healthier communities across the state.” 

About CVS Health

CVS Health is the nation’s premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The Company believes its innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

About the CVS Health Foundation

The CVS Health Foundation is a private charitable organization created by CVS Health that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. The Foundation provides strategic investments to nonprofit partners throughout the U.S. who help increase community-based access to health care for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming. We also invest in scholarship programs that open the pathways to careers in pharmacy to support the academic aspirations of the best and brightest talent in the industry. Our philanthropy also extends to supporting our colleagues' spirit of volunteerism through Volunteer Challenge Grants to nonprofits where they donate their time and fundraising efforts. To learn more about the CVS Health Foundation and its giving, visit www.cvshealth.com/social-responsibility.

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Free Screenings, Helpful Advice and a Visit from Pro Athletes at Project Health

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A customer receives a free health screening.
This Project Health event in Atlanta was one of nearly 600 targeting underserved communities.
A customer receiving a free health screening.
More than 87 percent of patients who attend Project Health events report following-up with their primary care physician.
A CVS Pharmacy store with Project Health sign.
Nearly 600 Project Health free health screenings were held in CVS store locations across the country.

Jean Peterson dropped by the City Line Avenue CVS Pharmacy in West Philadelphia to pick up pictures she’d dropped off at the photo department. Moments later, she also came away with a better picture of her own health — and the chance to snap a selfie with two local heroes: former Villanova basketball star Donte DiVincenzo and state Rep. Morgan Cephas.

Peterson had happened upon one of the many free screenings that CVS Health is offering across the country. During the next four months, nearly 600 Project Health events will take place in multicultural communities with a large number of uninsured or underinsured Americans. At each event, participants receive on-the-spot assessments of weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels – tests that can help detect risk for chronic conditions such diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Since its founding in 2006, Project Health’s free health and wellness screenings have delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to nearly 1.7 million Americans.

One of those Americans was Peterson. The 70-year-old retired nurse learned that her blood sugar was a bit high, most likely due to medications she was given after a recent back surgery. “I always take advantage of things like this,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt and it keeps me in touch with what I need to take care of.”

Know Your Numbers

Sometimes, the people who think they need the testing the least are the ones who benefit the most.

Brenda, a screener technician at the Project Health event in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, said a lot of very fit people come in to be screened, usually because they want to know their BMI. But other tests are just as important. One of her patients was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

“The guy said, ‘I’m very fit, I go to the gym and stuff like that, I train people, too,’” said Brenda, who is applying to medical school. But they tested him three more times – once manually – and the results were the same. “And the doctor was like, ‘Hey, you need to go to your doctor and follow up. Please.’ We were very shocked. He looked extremely healthy, very muscular.”

Speaking Their Language

Many of our Miami stores sit in Hispanic neighborhoods, emphasizing the importance of having bilingual screeners, says Elena Ferrales, a health screening manager for Project Health.

Cristina, a young mother, wheeled her seven-month-old into the Miami store and signed up to have a screening while her baby slept in the stroller. She had diabetes while she was pregnant, and though her levels have gone down, she tries to check them regularly. After her screening, she sat with the doctor and, conversing in both English and Spanish, they discussed her results and he gave her food recommendations.

Later, a similar conversation with an older man was conducted entirely in Spanish.

A Slam Dunk for Health

As much as anyone, professional athletes understand the importance of good health. They also understand that it’s not always easy for people to access the care they need to achieve it.

“If I wake up feeling something is wrong, I know there’s a handful of people ready to check me out,” says Donte DiVincenzo, a two-time NCAA basketball champ with the Villanova Wildcats, now a point guard with the Milwaukee Bucks. “But I shouldn’t get special treatment just because I’m a pro athlete. Everyone should have these resources.”

A handful of athletes were featured speakers at Project Health events. In addition to DiVincenzo, who appeared in Philadelphia, Los Angeles Clippers forward Mfiondu Kabengele spoke in Anaheim and Heat player Bam Adebayo attended the Miami event.

Kabengele says he learned during his first year with the NBA the importance of undergoing regular checkups. Small everyday steps, he says, can add up.

“When you have poor health, everything dumbs down,” he says. “When you're healthy, your motor is good. Preventive care is a reality check to make improvements.”

Being good sports, the athletes joined the customers to be screened. Adebayo – a player for the Heat – noted how easy it was to get screened inside the store.

“You don’t have the anxiety, you don’t have to have an appointment, you don’t need to be there at 8, the anxiety of waiting around, what if something is wrong with me?” he said. “You just walk in, get it, see how it goes.”

Access for All

Morgan Cephas, a track and field star at Central High School in Philadelphia and now a Pennsylvania state representative, knows the importance of health care from the perspective of both an athlete and a policymaker. As vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, she noted that 10 percent of those in her district are uninsured or underinsured.

“Not everyone is the daughter or cousin or friend of a state representative,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to choose between managing their health and keeping a roof over their heads.”

An Immediate Impact

What happens after the screenings is up to the individual. But for one participant, the consultation had an immediate impact.

Zita James, 68, had been on her way to the nearby coffee shop when she noticed signs outside for the free screenings at the Philadelphia location. After her detour to CVS, she chose to make a positive change to her health.

“It stopped me going next door and getting two jelly doughnuts!” she laughed.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

A customer receiving a free health screening.
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Aetna Voices of Health Competition Kicks Off Today

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HARTFORD, Conn. Aetna, a CVS Health company, announced today that online voting is underway for the 2019 "Aetna Voices of Health" program at www.aetnavoicesofhealth.com. Voices of Health is a competition and celebration of grassroots non-profit organizations across the country that are working to address social determinants of health in their communities.

The 102 Voices of Health participants aim to promote health and well-being by addressing a wide range of community issues such as childhood obesity, access to affordable prescriptions and health care services, and providing food to the homeless, just to name a few. The voting period runs from September 9 through October 13.

Aetna will award $20,000 to the organization that receives the most online votes in its market. Participating markets include: Atlanta; Central Pennsylvania; Charlotte, NC; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Detroit; Fresno, CA; Houston; Inland Empire, CA; Jacksonville, FL; King County, WA; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; New York CityWinning organizations in New York City will receive $20,000 for the first-place finisher and $10,000 for the second-place finisher.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh, Santa Clara, CA; South Florida; and Tacoma, WA.

All organizations participating in this year's Voices of Health competition were selected in April, during a public nomination period.

"We at Aetna have an amazing opportunity, and responsibility, to improve the health and well-being of our communities by focusing on how we address social determinants of health," said Floyd Green, vice president of Aetna's Community Affairs. "While Voices of Health is a competition, the program aims to help establish community-based networks for the organizations to leverage each other's services, allowing for more access to those who need them."

Campaigning for Votes

The Aetna "Voices of Health" website will feature a one-minute video from each organization describing how the prize money would help it further its mission. Organizations will be able to advocate for votes in different ways, including sharing their videos through social media and other communication channels.

To learn more about the organizations competing in Voices of Health or to vote, visit http://www.aetnavoicesofhealth.com/

The Voices of Health program is aligned with "Destination: Health," a series of CVS Health business programs with an enhanced focus on helping people improve their health outside of a clinical setting.

About Aetna

Aetna, a CVS Health company, serves an estimated 38 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

Aetna Media Contact:

Anjie Coplin
214-200-8056
Coplina@aetna.com

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The Healing Power of Art

The Healing Power of Art
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A flower mural on the side of a CVS Pharmacy.
“Urbs in Horto” features Chicago’s city flower, the chrysanthemum, on the side of a CVS Pharmacy in the Lakeview neighborhood.
People standing in front of a flower mural.
Detroit mural artist Ouizi (center) dedicates “Urbs in Horto,” which translates to “City in a Garden” and takes its name from the City of Chicago’s official motto.

A new mural is on display and was recently dedicated on Mother’s Day to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, thanks in part to CVS Health. The mural featuring beautiful flowers in bloom was created by Detroit artist Louise “Ouizi” Jones, and is painted on the exterior of a CVS Pharmacy on the 3600 block of North Southport Avenue.

“CVS Health is so delighted to have been a part of this project, and our involvement is an example of the ways that we are working to build healthier communities,” said Joe Haas, region manager at the CVS Pharmacy where the mural is located.

The mural is part of an effort to unveil 15 new public works of art across the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, fostering among its residents a stronger sense of pride, ownership and investment in their community.

“As a leading health care company, we like to say that health starts in the community,” added Haas. “And health is determined in part by the quality of our neighborhoods and the nature of our social interactions and relationships. This beautiful mural is a way to inspire, uplift and unite the Lakeview community, and contribute to its social health and vibrancy.”

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Aetna announces call for nominations for Aetna's Voices of Health competition

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HARTFORD, Conn., April 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Aetna, a CVS Health business, today announced they are seeking nominations for the company's 2019 Voices of Health competition, which celebrates non-profit grassroots organizations working to address social determinants of health. The nomination period runs from April 1st 12th.

"We are excited to give people the opportunity to nominate incredible organizations that are moving the needle to help underserved communities find the resources they need in order to live healthier, happier lives," said Floyd W. Green, Aetna's vice president of community activation.

Nominations are open to non-profit organizations in the following cities:

  • New York City
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fresno, CA
  • Houston, TX
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Kings County, WA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Inland Empire, CA (San Bernardino and Riverside)
  • Santa Clara, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Tacoma, WA

Following the nomination period, an internal Aetna committee will select between five to 10 organizations in each city to participate in the upcoming Aetna's Voices of Health competition, which begins on September 9th.

Voices of Health is a friendly voting competition that will take place in all 20 markets, where non-profits will be vying for prize money to help further their missions. More information on the Voices of Health competition will be shared in the coming months.

For official rules and criteria or to submit a nomination, visit aetnavoicesofhealth.com

About Aetna

Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 39 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

Aetna Media Contact:

Anjie Coplin
CoplinA@aetna.com
214-200-8056

SOURCE Aetna

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U.S. News and Aetna Foundation Release 2019 Healthiest Communities Rankings

U.S. News and Aetna Foundation Release 2019 Healthiest Communities Rankings
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Second annual list helps identify best practices and accelerate progress for community health across the country.

Washington, D.C. – March 26, 2019 – Douglas County, Colorado, is the healthiest community in America, according to the 2019 Healthiest Communities rankings by U.S. News & World Report, released today in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation. The second annual report and accompanying analysis are based on an evaluation of nearly 3,000 communities nationwide across 81 health-related metrics in 10 categories, from education and population health to infrastructure and environment. In addition to assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, the project serves as a tool to inform residents, health care leaders and elected officials about policies and best practices that help drive better health outcomes.

For 2019, the top five Healthiest Communities score above the national average in all 10 categories. Following Douglas County, Colorado, at No. 1, Los Alamos County, New Mexico, rose to No. 2, moving Falls Church city, Virginia, to No. 3, down from No. 1 in 2018. Loudoun County, Virginia, jumped up a spot to No. 4, with Broomfield County, Colorado, rounding out the top five.

“Through the Healthiest Communities initiative, U.S. News expands on three decades of expertise in measuring health care quality to assess how social determinants affect community health,” said Eric Gertler, executive chairman of U.S. News & World Report. “Our second-year endeavor with the Aetna Foundation combines high-quality data with the power of journalism to engage communities about where they can improve and how they can learn from each other.”

The Healthiest Communities rankings, underwritten by the Aetna Foundation, are part of a $100 million commitment by CVS Health and its affiliates to making community health and wellness central to the company’s charge for a better world. The new Building Healthier Communities initiative, which will be funded over five years by CVS Health and the CVS Health and Aetna foundations, builds upon the outstanding tradition of community investment by CVS Health and Aetna and advances CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.  

“Through our support of organizations across the country, we know that the most effective and innovative solutions to improve health are consistently developed by addressing the needs of each specific community,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health. “The Healthiest Communities rankings continue to provide the insights that are essential to identify key issues and support community organizations, leaders and residents who are tackling the unique social determinants of health that impact their respective neighborhoods.”

In addition to an overall ranking of the top 500 communities, four peer groupings were developed based on counties’ urban-rural status as tied to population density and economic status. The peer groups assure fair comparisons between communities and are categorized as: urban high-performing, urban up-and-coming, rural high-performing and rural up-and-coming.

Key Findings in the 2019 Healthiest Communities rankings:

  • For 2019, Douglas County, Colorado, is the No. 1 healthiest community in America. The Denver suburb is among the top 10 healthiest communities in the country in at least four of the 81 measures, including physical activity, educational attainment and median household income.
  • Seven communities in Colorado rank among the top 20: Douglas County (1), Broomfield County (5), Chaffee County (11), Routt County (14), San Miguel County (17), Pitkin County (19) and Boulder County (20). In those seven counties, nearly all adults exercise and only about a quarter missed their annual wellness checkup. Across all of its counties, Colorado has the highest average score in the country in the Environment category, which includes measures of natural amenities and air and water quality.
  • Iowa has the strongest presence in the Healthiest Communities rankings overall, with 62 counties landing among the top 500. Average community scores put Iowa among the top 10 states in four of the 10 broad categories assessed, including Population Health and Housing. Iowa’s top-performing community, No. 26 Bremer County, takes top scores in walkability and low toxic releases.
  • 81 counties are new to this year’s top 500 communities, including Montour County, Pennsylvania, which improved in the Population Health category. Bath County, Virginia, saw significant progress in Education and Sweetwater County, Wyoming, rose in Environment.
  • Of the 81 metrics included in the Healthiest Communities analysis, diabetes prevalence and smoking rate have the strongest correlation to life expectancy. According to Healthiest Communities calculations, Hawaii counties perform the best in the country in life expectancy, with an average of 81.15 years
  • At 8.7 percent, the average smoking rate across Utah counties is the lowest in the country. The rate is about half the national average and about 3 percentage points lower than in California, the state with the second-lowest rate.
  • Poor self-reported mental health has about the same negative link to life expectancy as diabetes, smoking and physical inactivity. The same metric also is linked to higher rates of poverty at the community level. 
  • Communities in Nebraska take 16 of the top 100 spots in the Mental Health subcategory, including Cherry County and Morrill County, which both score among the top 10 in the subcategory. The state has averaged 26 deaths due to suicide, alcohol-related disease and drug overdoses per 100,000 population; only New York state has averaged fewer “deaths of despair,” with 25 per 100,000 population.

To compile the rankings, U.S. News worked with the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), a research institution skilled in community health assessment, and consulted with members of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. For the 2019 rankings, three new measures were added: two under the Equity category assessing racial disparities and one under the Housing category measuring households with incomplete plumbing. Overall, the rankings are based on metrics drawn from sources such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Healthiest Communities rankings are the centerpiece of a platform featuring in-depth reporting and analysis on community and public health issues, as well as comprehensive data covering the full spectrum of factors that influence population health. Healthiest Communities is part of U.S. News’ expanding civic journalism portfolio, which includes the Best States and Best Countries sections that evaluate how government leaders and public policies best serve their citizens.

2019 Healthiest Communities- Top 10

*See the full rankings here

  1. Douglas County, Colorado

  2. Los Alamos County, New Mexico

  3. Falls Church city, Virginia

  4. Loudoun County, Virginia

  5. Broomfield County, Colorado

  6. Teton County, Wyoming

  7. Hamilton County, Indiana

  8. Carver County, Minnesota

  9. Delaware County, Ohio

  10. Howard County, Maryland

Peer Group Rankings – Top 5

Urban, High-Performing

  1. Douglas County, Colorado

  2. Los Alamos County, New Mexico

  3. Falls Church city, Virginia

  4. Loudoun County, Virginia

  5. Broomfield County, Colorado

Rural, High-Performing

  1. Teton County, Wyoming

  2. Chaffee County, Colorado

  3. Morgan County, Utah

  4. Routt County, Colorado

  5. Jefferson County, Montana

Urban, Up-and-Coming

  1. Houston County, Minnesota

  2. Hood River County, Oregon

  3. Bennington County, Vermont

  4. Island County, Washington

  5. Marquette County, Michigan

Rural, Up-and-Coming

  1. Wallowa County, Oregon

  2. Lincoln County, Washington

  3. Calhoun County, Iowa

  4. Iron County, Wisconsin

  5. Baylor County, Texas

Key Health Measures – Top 5

Top 5 Communities for Access to Health Care

  1. Suffolk County, MA

  2. Olmsted County, MN

  3. Montour County, PA

  4. Ohio County, WV

  5. Johnson County, IA

Top 5 Communities for Mental Health

  1. Manassas Park city, VA

  2. Cherry County, NE

  3. Tripp County, SD

  4. Honolulu County, HI

  5. Santa Clara County, CA

Top 5 Communities for Low Cancer Prevalence

  1. Ziebach County, SD

  2. Culberson County, TX

  3. Presidio County, TX

  4. Garfield County, WA

  5. Hudspeth County, TX

The 2019 Healthiest Communities rankings are accompanied by data-driven and narrative stories examining the health island of Williamson County, Tennessee; the conflict of city vs. suburban health as seen in Nassau County, New York; and more.

To view the full rankings and search county profiles, please visit: https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities.

For more information on Healthiest Communities explore Facebook and Twitter using #HealthiestCommunities.

About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars and Civic, USNews.com provides consumer advice, rankings and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

About the Aetna Foundation

The Aetna Foundation is an independent charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health (NYSE:CVS). As a national health foundation, the Aetna Foundation promotes wellness, health and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who volunteered 670,000 hours in 2018 alone. For more information, visit www.aetnafoundation.org.

Media Contacts:

U.S. News & World Report:
Maria Santucci
202-955-2031
msantucci@usnews.com

Aetna Foundation:
Ethan Slavin
860-273-6095
slavine@aetna.com 

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