National grants aid efforts to make the midstate healthier

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jun 12, 2013 4:00 AM

(Undated) -- By evaluating the health care system, identifying gaps and finding the right people to work on solutions, the Aligning Forces for Quality program is taking a collaborative approach in York and Adams counties. But Project Director Chris Amy says the effects could be felt across the entire region.

"South Central Pennsylvania tends to be a place where even competing health systems are willing to sit at the table with each other for the benefit of the patients," Amy says.

The program is entering its fourth and final phase of grant funding, and Amy says payment reform is a priority. "We pay for a lot of services to be done to people, but we don't pay for a lot of programs that would help people to improve their health before they get into a crisis situation," Amy says of the existing fee-for-service model.

Aligning Forces for Quality has already begun exploring an existence beyond 2015, when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant expires.

Another grant initiative -- this one through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- is funding LiveWELL Lancaster County's work to reduce chronic disease.

A new survey is helping to focus those efforts, and Program Manager Eboni Bryant says it suggests that healthy and safe physical environments are lacking in the county.

"Once we start thinking about those things a little bit differently we'll see that there are opportunities for us to turn this entire thing around," Bryant says, "and see not only a healthier population -- but we'll also start seeing communities that are more connected, where there's less crime."

More sidewalks and bike lanes may be a long-term goal when it comes to healthier and safer environments, but Bryant says communities can start conducting walkability and bikeability audits as soon as possible. Only a handful of the county's municipalities have done so to date, according to the survey.

LiveWELL Lancaster County is focused on increasing participation in research-tested best practices across schools, workplaces, and municipalities. Bryant hopes to move the needle on several chronic disease issues -- like obesity or diabetes -- in the remaining three years of funding.

Published in Adams County, Lancaster, News, York

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