In 2012, then Health Forward President/CEO Steve Roling was on his way home from a conference when he had an idea, or as Steve promoted them to staff, “an opportunity.” He envisioned a small project looking back at how health has advanced in our region during Health Forward’s first 10 years of grantmaking.
There were many, many discussions after Steve’s initial suggestion about how to best approach this project. We felt that there was already information available in our community on data trends. An analysis solely of Health Forward grants seemed limiting as well, given that we know our funds and projects don’t exist in isolation.
Instead we decided we would take advantage of our unique perspective of the health community to examine system-level challenges, changes and opportunities. More than 200 individuals participated in the process, and their reflections and insights about the past, present and future of health in the region were enormously beneficial.
This week we are proud to debut a new report and website —Health ForwardDecadeofDifference.org — that depicts changes over the past decade in health and health care in our region. While Health Forward produced this website and report, the story it tells isn’t about Health Forward, but instead about how we have all collectively worked together to advance the health of our region.
While we knew that the progress had been made, this assessment has allowed us to more clearly see the enormous strides that have been made in our region since 2005. Ninety-five percent of the region is now smoke-free; healthy eating and active living initiatives have become mainstream; the Affordable Care Act became law; and new models of care have been introduced and refined. Just as critically, there is a growing acknowledgement that there are many factors that influence health. Even more impressively, much of this has occurred during a time of scarce resources and increasing need. To the organizations that work day in and day out on these issues, we hope this product fills you with a sense of pride in all that has been accomplished.
Heartfelt thanks goes to all of those who participated in this project via an interview, a focus group or a video clip. We are grateful to you for sharing your successes over the past decade, for teaching us about the needs, and for imagining and working toward better health. We hope you visit us online to see how your work has shaped our communities at Health ForwardDecadeofDifference.org.
Decade of Difference