Ymca Convenes Local Health Experts To Combat Chronic Disease

Y of Central Florida :: Healthy Living Initiative



With chronic disease threatening the health, wellness and future of our community, more than 50 top medical experts, health care executives and public health officials joined with the Y this week to determine how they, as key stakeholders, can work together to focus on prevention.

During his welcome, YMCA President/CEO Jim Ferber highlighted the Y's historic role in strengthening communities through its focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Health StatisticsHe also discussed the epidemic of chronic disease — conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer — that currently affect 50% of all Americans.


"When we talk about Healthy Living, we're really talking about prevention," Ferber said. "The challenge is to deepen community partnerships and find new ways that we ─ as a government, health care, private sector and nonprofit leaders ─ can combine our strengths to create real and lasting change." As for the Y’s efforts, Ferber noted that the organization has adopted a more personalized, prevention-based approach that empowers people to take charge of their health and wellness by becoming more physically active and making healthier food choices. It's also investing heavily to expand and transform its family centers, starting with the Dr. P. Phillips and Frank DeLuca YMCAs. Both will include healthy cafes and teaching kitchens, as well as expanded areas for health screenings, clinical therapies and other services provided through deeper partnerships with local hospitals.

Moving the Needle by 10%

Citing the alarming statistics around chronic disease, YMCA Chief Operating Officer Dan Wilcox challenged the group to work together to work together to curb chronic disease in our region by 10%. "Imagine what it would mean if we could achieve this," he said. "The Y can't do it alone, but by working together, we can create a healthy, sustainable community for all residents." Based on feedback from a guest survey, the group will continue meeting to identify priorities, as well as new opportunities for collaboration. "This is an action-oriented group and our next step is to develop a plan," said John Cardone, YMCA Vice President of Health Strategies. "The Y is evolving and ready to lead the change."

The Experts Weigh In:

Dr. Richard Pratley, Medical Director, Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute"You don't have to be a medical expert to understand the statistics. Twenty-seven million Americans have diabetes. That's 8% of the population, with 15,000 new cases occurring each day. It's a tremendous challenge and opportunity. We know that better diet and exercise are proven to reduce new cases of diabetes by 60%. So we can do this. By partnering with others here today, we can expand this effort and make an even greater difference."

Dr. Richard Pratley, Medical Director, Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute Dr. Beth Boyer Kollas, Director of Corporate Strategy, Planning and Research, Orlando Health"Many of the issues related to chronic disease are preventable. So how do we bond together and make this happen? It really will take all of us. When I think of the all the success Orlando Health has achieved, it’s because we’ve reached out into the community and asked others to partner with us. And that’s what today is about. Thank you for inviting Orlando Health to be part of this initiative." Dr. Beth Boyer Kollas, Director of Corporate Strategy, Planning and Research, Orlando Health Dr. Angela Falls, Medical Director, Weight Management Program, Florida Hospital for Children"Just as with adults, the problem of obesity among children is very real. Nationally, 35-46% of kids are overweight or obese and in Central Florida that rate may be even higher, so our work is cut out for us. Three years ago, Florida Hospital embarked on a journey to significantly improve our children's health and wellness. To partner with YMCA to make a tangible difference makes me happy beyond description. Instead of reinventing wheels, it's great to work together to change the wellness of children." Dr. Angela Falls, Medical Director, Weight Management Program, Florida Hospital for Children Dan O'Connor, Vice President of Human Resources, Munroe Regional Medical Center"When it comes to health status, Marion County ranks very low among all Florida counties. As a hospital, we know that we can change that, and we view our partnership with the Frank DeLuca YMCA as tremendous outreach opportunity. We have a lot of people who care about different aspects of health, whether its diabetes, children's issues, or diet and nutrition. Today, all of these fragmented pieces are coming together and pointing in the same direction. And that's very exciting." Dan O'Connor, Vice President of Human Resources, Munroe Regional Medical Center "Our county and state health departments serve communities in a broad way. The question is how do we, as a group, draw closer and focus on specific issues? Our goals are similar and the synergy is here. Whether it's about addressing shared challenges, such as helping all people maintain a healthy weight or focusing on specific, localized issues such as food deserts, we're ready to partner with Y." Dr. Kevin Sherin, Orange County Health Director For more information about Y Healthy Living partnerships, contact John Cardone at [email protected].