Following the release of the second annual U.S. News & World Report 2019 Healthiest Communities rankings, the Aetna Foundation convened a roundtable in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with state officials, community organizations and local providers to promote a dialogue about addressing social determinants of health to improve the health of communities across the Keystone state.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller joined the event as the keynote speaker.
“A person’s health is more than just what happens inside of a doctor’s office. Their job, education level, access to food, and their housing situation all affect their health,” said Secretary Miller. “Our goal is to empower Pennsylvanians to live fulfilling lives and build stronger communities. Understanding the whole person and the individual circumstances they face is critical as we work to ensure that services provided are putting the people we serve on a path to improved long-term outcomes like better health, success in employment or education and training, or self-sufficiency.”
The Healthiest Communities rankings, underwritten by the Aetna Foundation, are part of a $100 million commitment by CVS Health and its affiliates to making community health and wellness central to the company’s charge for a better world. The new Building Healthier Communities initiative, which will be funded over five years by CVS Health and the CVS Health and Aetna foundations, builds upon the outstanding tradition of community investment by CVS Health and Aetna and advances CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.
The roundtable event specifically highlighted food access and nutrition, which is a critical issue facing both urban and rural residents, across the state of Pennsylvania.
Around 115 people attended the roundtable, which, in addition to Secretary Miller, featured U.S. News & World Report Editor and Chief Content Editor Brian Kelly; U.S. News & World Report Executive Editor Tim Smart; U.S. News & World Report Reporter Gaby Galvin; State Rep. Joanna McClinton; The Food Trust President and CEO Yael Lehmann; Central Pennsylvania Food Bank CEO Joe Arthur; and Welsh Mountain Health Centers Chief Quality Officer Kate Millay.
“We have a significant opportunity to improve the physical and economic health of the country by changing our priorities and focusing on how we address social determinants of health,” said Patti MacRae, Executive Director, Aetna Foundation. “Thank you to everyone who took the time and joined us for this important conversation. We are building healthier communities, one community at a time, and these types of dialogues are truly critical to our work.”
The roundtable is part of a multi-year Healthiest Communities collaboration between U.S. News & World Report and the Aetna Foundation. In addition to being the state capital, Harrisburg is the county seat of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, which did not rank is this year’s Healthiest Communities rankings. However, 7 counties in Pennsylvania were part of this year’s top 500 Healthiest Communities List: Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Cumberland, Butler, Montour, and Elk.