On May 31, 2013, the Northern Virginia Health Foundation (NVHF) hosted the first-ever health summit in Northern Virginia, bringing together more than 130 of the region’s leaders from government, health care, businesses, and non-profits. Attendees discussed a new NVHF report, “How Healthy is Northern Virginia?,” as well as creative approaches to improving health in the region outlined in the report.
As detailed in a Washington Post story, the report shows that despite having many affluent and “high-performing” counties, significant numbers of Northern Virginia residents of various income levels struggle when it comes to health factors like mental health, dental care, obesity, and prenatal care.
“This is a call to action for the region,” NVHF president and CEO Patricia Mathews said of the report data. “Improving access to medical care is important, but it’s not enough to make meaningful change in people’s lives. We must work together to address the socioeconomic factors that we know influence how healthy we are, such as improving access to high-quality education, job opportunities, safe neighborhoods, healthy foods, and regular opportunities for physical activity.”
Along with Mathews’ address to summit attendees, three of the region’s top health experts discussed the status of health reform in the Commonwealth, shared about ways their organizations are addressing health issues in the region, and helped outline a blueprint for moving forward. Speakers included Dr. Len Nichols, George Mason University professor and director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics; Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax County Director of Health; and Dr. Steven Woolf, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human Needs. During a mid-morning breakout session, attendees brainstormed ways to work “across silos” toward solutions like reaching out to non-traditional partners and learning from other regions about what’s working to improve health.
Watch full video coverage of the first-ever Northern Virginia health summit: Where Are We, and Where Could We Go?
You can also read the summary from this meeting, including the ideas and action steps proposed by meeting participants for improving health in the region.