Roanoke Valley leaders say healthy isn't just diet and exercise, it's everything else too

Healthy Roanoke Valley addressing other community needs

By Shayne Dwyer - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Community leaders are working to form a healthier Roanoke Valley as the definition of healthy continues to evolve. With a moving target like that, they're strategizing regularly and Tuesday night they did just that, working to reach people who may otherwise slip through the cracks.

The group of more than 50 stakeholders is looking at big questions, with big answers. Shirley Holland of Carilion Clinic is one of the people working together with the community collaboration, Healthy Roanoke Valley.

"Each of us bring different resources, different perspectives that can together address some of the issues in the community around access to health," Holland said.

They're building on the new three-year plan to improve overall health, this time focusing on ALICE. Abby Hamilton with the United Way said Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed people are the ones who make just enough to stay off the radar, but not enough to always stay afloat.

"They don't have enough to meet basic needs and sometimes when life throws a curve ball they're also the likely ones that tend to suffer and make difficult choices," Hamilton said.

The new plan is based on the community health assessment, completed every three years. In 2015, many of the items on the assessment were traditional health items like diet and care. But the 2018 assessment found that people are actually struggling with things that don't traditionally fall into the healthcare silo, but are making a huge impact on health outcomes.

"Things like poverty and transportation, which are tired to social determinants of health and social determinants of health and ALICE are really closely tied together," Hamilton said.

At Holland's table, they talked about how more resources are coming online everyday like community health workers and peer recovery specialists, but that people don't necessarily know that they're there to help. They want to figure out a way to get it out there, but know it won't be easy.

"These are big issues, these are issues that are inter-generational and have been around for a long time, so we're not going to solve them overnight, but maybe we can make some progress together," Holland said.

Progress together with the hope of better health outcomes for all.

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