New action plan aims to save lives in Petersburg - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

New action plan aims to save lives in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

After nearly a year of preparation, a major healthcare organization will unveil a roadmap to help end the city's healthcare crisis.

Community Health Alliance will present its findings to the Petersburg City Council Tuesday night, revealing a proposal to put all of Petersburg's healthcare initiatives under one city brand.

"A branding effort will create a sense of purpose, direction, and vision," said Terone B. Green, one of the lead collaborators on the research plan. "If we put grassroots and city programs under a single brand, we can improve knowledge of what health resources are available in Petersburg."

The name "Healthy Petersburg 2020," has been suggested as a possible name for the brand, if the city decides to follow the CHA proposal.

The recommendations also include hiring a "Health Czar" to improve coordination between city and grassroots healthcare resources. The findings conclude there is not enough collaboration between healthcare providers within the city.

"People need to know, who's doing what," said Green in an interview Tuesday. "They should know what church might be dealing with an issue related to diabetes…What community center is dealing with hypertension."

A breakdown of the city's health statistics reveals several challenges to get the community in shape. According to a 2012 study by the Population Health Institute, more than one in three people in Petersburg are obese.

Nearly a third of adults within the city limits smoke, and nearly one in five people do not have health insurance.

Asked if better cooperation between city programs can make a difference when people may not be able to afford insurance, Michael Matthews of the Central VA Health Network expressed enthusiasm.

"Just having insurance doesn't ensure a healthy community," said Matthews in an interview Tuesday. "We know people with insurance also have some very unhealthy behaviors that contribute to morbidity and mortality."

The findings will be presented to the public and city council members Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Petersburg Old Train Station. Residents are welcome to attend to express their views and opinions on the ideas.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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