Practice/Community Highlight – This year’s LiveWell Omaha Annual Meeting had a twist: the launch of a new brand. The organization, which has helped shape the public health landscape of Douglas County for over 20 years, leads a coalition of organizations that are committed to prioritizing and improving conditions that impact the health of our community. LiveWell Omaha believes that our community thrives when each of us has an equitable opportunity to live well – right here in Douglas County. Under this new brand, many key activities will remain for the organization, such as being a convener, and a communicator of health data and information. An exciting new focus moving forward is their work around becoming an Accountable Health Community.
The Accountable Health Community (AHC) concept came to Douglas County in October 2015 via a Decision Accelerator planning session with more than 95 leaders from business, non-profit, governmental, faith communities, healthcare, insurance, higher education, etc. The AHC model in Douglas County is centered in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Action Framework to create a culture of health. You can read more about the AHC Action Areas listed below, how they are taking shape in Douglas County, and how you can be involved here.
Action Areas 1 & 2 (Data & Communications): Making Health a Shared Value and Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration
Action Area 3 (Shared Coalition Policy Platform): Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities
Action Area 4 (Community Health Workers): Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems
The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health is a LiveWell Omaha member and is excited about working toward becoming an AHC. A foundational element of the AHC model is recognizing that nine key socioeconomic factors influence four health behaviors, which lead to four chronic diseases that cause 78% of early deaths in Douglas County (see image). This approach of understanding and addressing the root causes of health inequities and disparities is a critical step in improving quality of life and reducing the number of deaths linked to chronic disease in our community. Dean Ali Khan from the UNMC College of Public Health is a Board Member of LiveWell Omaha, and a number of other college faculty, staff, and students are involved in a variety of on-going and new LiveWell Omaha efforts.
During the annual meeting and brand launch, David A. Dzewaltowski, Endowed Community Chair & Professor in UNMC College of Public Health’s Department of Health Promotion, and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute provided a keynote address on the importance of place-based community health. Dr. Dzewaltowski explained how many of the challenges we are tackling in public health are not personal agency problems, but ones which requiring changing the game altogether. Public health’s role in this is not to single-handedly create the change, but to help facilitate the change. This requires truly understanding communities and all of the spaces, cultures, policies, and practices which shape opportunities for health and produce risk for illness. LiveWell Omaha, including the UNMC College of Public Health and all of the other members and partners.