Representatives from Ballad Health, the United Way of Southwest Virginia and Healthy Kingsport led a meeting at Bristol Regional Medical Center Tuesday, including the 24-member leadership council of a new accountable care community in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The Appalachian Highlands community will be the first accountable care community in the U.S. to encompass areas of two states.
“This is a huge step in improving the health of our region,” said Paula Masters, vice president of Health Programs at Ballad Health. “This battle has so many fronts. That is why it requires such a large, region-wide effort. There are as few as 31 accountable care communities in the entire nation, so we truly are breaking new ground here.”
The collaboration of more than 150 multi-sector groups, including school systems, not-for-profit organizations and healthcare providers will have a four-point strategic plan, according to Kandy Childress, executive director of Healthy Kingsport. It will focus on, “strong starts, strong youth, strong teens and strong families.” That strategic plan will target tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity and a drastic reduction in adverse childhood experiences.
The organizations involved have been meeting, in some cases since last summer, to bring together and analyze data from across the region. That aggregation of knowledge and effort, said Travis Staton, CEO of the United Way of Southwest Virginia, will lead to the ability to, “not just tweak the status quo, but to improve conditions and outcomes for children, youth and families.”
“There are simply issues in our region that require all of our focus,” Masters said. “None of us can do this alone. It takes a group effort with shared vision and accountable communities emphasize a shared vision for the health of an entire community.”