Broward County is an amazing place to both live and work. That is part of the reason why the county continues to witness significant growth in population. As the community continues to grow and become more diverse, it is essential for local and businesses and organizations to take the health and well-being of residents into our own hands.
The company I work for, Humana, has established a bold goal: to make the communities we serve 20 percent healthier by the year 2020. In Broward County, we’re already discussing this major initiative with many non-profit organizations, community agencies and clinicians– including the American Diabetes Association, United Way, and Hispanic Unity – to remove barriers to health.
According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 60 percent of Broward County residents are overweight or obese.[i] More than three-fourths of all residents don’t exercise enough to meet suggested guidelines. The community also deals with significant chronic conditions; for example, about 11 percent of adult residents have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Making matters more difficult, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly a tenth of Broward County residents have low English proficiency.[ii] This is a significant problem as language barriers can negatively impact health care delivery, including reduced preventive services rates and an increased risk of medication non-adherence.
Throughout the years, my various roles – including clinical work, medical management and health insurance administration – have allowed me to witness and better understand every aspect of the health care system within Broward County. From my experience, I have discovered that the degree to which community health is impacted relies on the level of investment and participation from the community’s local businesses and organizations.
Humana’s goal is to partner with Broward County nonprofits organizations and community agencies dedicated to making it easier for residents to live longer, healthier lives.
In fact, during an upcoming Clinical Town Hall strategy meeting this month, we will develop a collaborative plan to maximize and coordinate our community’s resources to combat critical health issues including diabetes, congestive heart failure and behavioral health. With Broward County residents having a 210 percent higher incidence of diabetes[iii] than the general population and three out of 10 deaths in Florida due to major cardiovascular diseases[iv], it’s imperative we start working together now to lower these numbers and help people achieve their best health.
One of the other ways we are working with the community is through our philanthropic arm, the Humana Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations that promote healthy behaviors, health education, and access to health services in the community. Last fall the Urban League of Broward County was named the recipient of a $350,000 grant, which will fund initiatives that aim to fight diabetes in our local community. Another local nonprofit organization is also receiving a one-time, $150,000 grant to implement a program that will improve the health of Broward County residents. For more information visit HumanaFoundation.org.
Over the next five years, Humana will be making an unprecedented level of investment in the health of a population far beyond our 250,000 area members and 1,800 local associates.
Why are we doing this? We firmly believe that, by partnering with health-minded non-profits, agencies and clinicians within Broward County, we will make this community healthier. From there, we’ll learn lessons that we can take to other communities we serve and work with businesses there to create a healthier America.
Fernando Valverde, M.D., is Humana’s Regional President for North and South Florida.
by Fernando Valverde, M.D.
April 6, 2016
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