The Wellness Connection: A Healthy Lake Sunapee Region
Catherine Bardier, MS
Director, Wellness & Community Health
New London Hospital
Geographic Community Served
Lake Sunapee Region - our service area spans both Merrimack and Sullivan Counties.
Merrimack: Andover, Bradford, Danbury, Newbury, New London, Sutton, Warner, Wilmot
Sullivan: Croydon, Goshon, Grantham, Lempster, Newport, Springfield, Sunapee, Washington
Total population: 35,700
On average, our population is older, slightly wealthier and more educated than the general US population*. However, we have a wide range of incomes across the two counties we serve, with many disparities. (*Based on 2011 census data)
Median age: 45.6; 17% are 65 and older (slightly older than average NH population)
Median household income: $61,427 (range: $45,593 - $87,245)
11.1% of families live below poverty line
Education: 91.7% have high school degree or higher; 35.5% have bachelor's degree or higher
The two leading causes of death in our service area are heart disease and cancer (followed by lower respiratory disease, stroke, accidents, dementia and diabetes).
Like the rest of the state, our rates of overweight and obesity are high (average: 38% and 26% respectively). Less than 30% of our residents consume 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day and only 55% report engaging in regular moderate or vigorous physical activity. We also have a teen birthrate that is particularly high in Sullivan County. Finally, the rates of premature death per 1,000 people are significantly higher across the two counties we serve than state of New Hampshire.
We aim to create a culture of wellness in the Lake Sunapee Region.
Vision: By 2017, the Lake Sunapee Region Wellness Initiative will have developed and implemented targeted interventions and strategies capable of achieving measurable goals to improve the health and well-being of the people who live in Lake Sunapee Region communities.
Mission: To provide the Lake Sunapee Region communities with a sustainable and collaborative long-term plan for measurably improving health and wellness.
HEAL Sectors Targeted:
- Healthcare Industry
- Communities & Municipalities
- Business & Worksites
- Food & Recreation Industries
We hope to eventually target all sectors with this initiative, although our first project focuses mainly on businesses & worksites as well as the healthcare industry.
Goal 1: Increase public awareness of, knowledge about, and participation in healthy behaviors through wellness initiatives that improve health outcomes.
- Develop and launch a communication strategy to: (a) inform the public about the Lake Sunapee Wellness Initiative and (b) obtain input on how the public might engage in this community-wide wellness effort.
- Develop and host educational sessions (including annual wellness forums) to inform the public about the association between lifestyle choices and health, and about how to engage in wellness initiatives in their local communities.
Goal 2: Increase effectiveness of regional employer wellness programs by creating a network of local businesses who work together to maximize expertise and resources toward a common goal of developing a healthy workforce.
- Create an employer wellness network (focus on assessing gaps in employee wellness programs and receiving/providing technical assistance and resources to improve the health and well-being of all area employees.)
- Business network implements at least one region-wide initiative focused on healthy eating and active living for all area employees.
- Member businesses create action plans to focus on at least one healthy eating/active living priority to improve their employer wellness programs over the next year.
Goal 3: Increase, align, and enhance efforts of organizations, community leaders, and individuals living in the Lake Sunapee Region who are working to improve healthy eating and active living behaviors.
- Create a multi-sector wellness coalition that has developed an action plan and is ready to implement at least one community-wide initiative focused on improving healthy eating or active living within a defined geographic area of the region. The coalition will target these initial efforts in communities in which they will have a measurable impact on multiple populations at the individual, organizational, community and policy levels.
- Initiative staff will provide ongoing facilitation and support to the Wellness Coalition in areas of education, leadership development, strategic planning, project development, strategy implementation and evaluation.
- Develop a champions for wellness program to engage local organizations and individuals and encourage cross-sector collaboration.
Our initiative is very new, so our successes at this point are a bit limited! But some progress highlights include:
- Recently wrapping up a yearlong strategic planning process and adopting a finalized strategic plan.
- Forming an Executive Steering Committee to oversee and guide the initiative.
- Hiring a full time staff member to coordinate and guide the projects.
- Choosing an initiative name and designing a logo.
- Conducting the first round of worksite wellness assessments with local employers (using the CDC Worksite Health Scorecard). We are currently analyzing the data to identify trends across the network and will soon be meeting with all surveyed businesses to review over results/develop an action plan.
- Currently working on structure for the Employer Wellness Network.
- Initiative website, Facebook page and related press releases will launch soon!