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Community Health Forum

Tennessee Health On Life Support

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The outlook doesn't look good when it comes to Tennessee's overall health.


What we do know, is Tennessee ranks 45th when it comes to the unhealthiest states, but health officials say the goal is to be one of the top ten healthiest states, so how do we get there?

Business leaders and medical experts came together for a community health forum at UTC to not only discuss the problem, but hopefully come up with a plan of action.

We spoke with Dr. Keith Helton who was on the panel. He says we have to start with making sure everyone can get basic medical care.

Dr. Keith Helton, Personal Physician Network says "We not only have poor access for many of the uninsured but we don't have the ability to educate patients because of lack of access."

Whether it's in rural communities, or the inner city,  Dr. Helton says the lack of access costs all of us in more ways than one. From disability,  to higher healthcare costs to absenteeism at work, we all pay the cost.
 
This forum comes as Gov. Haslam is on a statewide tour to promote his proposal called Insure Tennessee to extend health coverage to more than 200,000 low-income Tennesseans.

Dr. Helton says "Currently those folks don't have primary care doctors to go to because most primary care doctors want people to have some form of insurance before they see them, this provides that."

Those in attendance say while access is a big part of the problem, a change in mindset and culture are other key factors. The top three reasons Tennessee ranks near the bottom when it comes to our health are: 

Tobacco Use.  Rick Johnson says "If you are smoking get help to quit."

Obesity.  Johnson says "Drink water instead of that soda you were reaching for."

And lack of physical activity.  Johnson says "Just go outside, take a 15-30 minute walk every day."
   
Rick Johnson is the CEO of the Governor's Foundation for Health and Wellness.  He says to help get people moving in the right direction the foundation has launched a free app.

Rick Johnson says "We have an app that lets you start and build on that and then continue that building streak."  

Johnson says it's not impossible to turn things around, we just have to all come together and take one step at a time because the health of an individual affects the entire community.

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