I’ve mentioned before how much we can accomplish when we work hand-in-hand to tackle a common challenge. I truly believe that, and I believe that helping others is in our DNA as hospital organizations. Even so, I must confess that I was astounded by how many helping hands presented themselves when I proposed that we work together to help solve our state’s daunting public health challenges.
Not only did I hear positive responses from virtually every hospital executive in the state—I also heard a unanimous “yes” from other partners I invited to be part of this effort to improve the state’s rather dismal health metrics. I’m pleased to provide an update on our progress.
We now have a group of cross-sector leaders committed to meeting monthly on the topic. The group includes Julie Reed, executive vice president of the Indiana State Medical Association; Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce; Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation; Paul Halverson, founding dean of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health; Rob Hillman, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana; and Doug Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association.
We brainstormed and agreed that our first campaign should target tobacco consumption. Why? It’s one of many metrics in which Indiana ranks below the rest of the nation, and it plays a role in a variety of health issues, contributing to more than 30,000 deaths every year and causing roughly $3 billion in annual Hoosier health spending. Just as important, there are proven strategies for tackling the problem.
We feel that we can make a big difference through a variety of advocacy initiatives targeting tobacco consumption. Once we show what we can do together, we plan to expand our focus to include other significant health issues, including other addictions.
I am so encouraged and inspired by the willingness of so many leaders across our state to join forces for the common good. I can’t wait to see what we’re able to achieve. Thank you for your commitment to making Indiana a better—and healthier—place to live!