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Business, health care execs to steer Frist's health initiative – The Tennessean

Business, health care execs to steer Frist's health initiative – The Tennessean


Nashville health care and business leaders — from HCA, Bridgestone Americas and Bank of America, among others — have joined the board of former Sen. Bill Frist’s initiative to not only make the city healthier but a model for other cities trying to tackle bad health.

NashvilleHealth, Frist’s one-year-old organization, is trying to tackle the gulf between the health care expertise in Davidson County and the health of residents, which lags many of its metro peers. The state, too, is struggling with years of residents with poor health and chronic disease despite being home to many top health care companies.

Business and government leaders are concerned the city and state’s future economy will be tarnished by the health of the population. There are state, city and regional efforts to help people manage chronic disease, move more and make healthier decisions.

“Nashville is a thriving, energetic city and we are in the midst of an economic boom — but the health of our own population is poor,” said Frist in a statement. “Left unaddressed, our long-term economic and social vitality is in danger. In true Nashville fashion, we will pull together to solve the issue and create a sustaining culture of health, with an eye towards health equity and health disparities.”

NashvilleHealth has prioritized hypertension, smoking cessation and child health because of the broad impact changing course on these issues can make.

Nationally, local leaders are being encouraged to take the lead on health initiatives to get different parts of the community involved.

“The importance of a healthy community in attracting top businesses and talent to Nashville cannot be overstated. It’s a responsibility we all share if we’re going to ensure our city’s vitality for generations to come,” Ralph Schulz, CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Caroline Young, the former president of the Nashville Health Care Council, is executive director of NashvilleHealth. Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, will chair the 17-person board:

  • Jeff Balser, president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Bill Carpenter, chairman and CEO of LifePoint Health
  • Neil de Crescenzo, president and CEO of Change Healthcare
  • Gary Garfield, past chairman, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas
  • James Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College
  • Milton Johnson, chairman and CEO of HCA
  • Rita Johnson-Mills, CEO of United Healthcare Community Plan
  • Ken Levitan, president and founder of Vector Management
  • Wanda Lyle, managing director, UBS Nashville Business Solutions Center
  • Bill Paul, director, Metro Public Health Department
  • Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Karen Springer, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health/Senior Vice President, Ascension
  • John Stein, Tennessee president, Bank of America
  • Donato Tramuto, president and CEO, Healthways
  • Stephaine Hale Walker, assistant professor of Neonatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Andrea Willis, senior vice president and CMO, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Reach Holly Fletcher at 615-259-8287 or on Twitter @hollyfletcher.

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