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Wellmont, REACH! kick off yearlong wellness initiative

April 23rd, 2007 9:36 pm by Rick Wagner

KINGSPORT - Wellmont Health System and a community coalition known as REACH! are launching a yearlong initiative promoting wellness.

Wellmont and the Regional Education and Action Coalition (REACH!) are kicking off the initiative with "Shaping for the Future: Healthy Children, Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities," a regional conference May 1-2 at MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.

REACH! and Wellmont are working "to help, frankly, keep people out of our hospitals," said Patrick Kane, Wellmont's senior vice president of marketing and communications.

"I can no longer live in a state that ranks 47th in the country, the bottom 5 percent, in health care," Jeff Bedars, president and chief executive of Crown Laboratories and member of the REACH! group, said at an afternoon news conference at the Holston Valley Outpatient Center.

Bedars said Tennessee ranks 47th nationwide in infant mortality, cancer deaths and smoking, 48th in heart disease and 42nd in obesity.

Everything from bullying, school nutrition, economic development and community vitality is on the agenda.

Dr. David Katz, an authority on nutrition, weight control and prevention of chronic disease and a frequent contributor to ABC News, will deliver the keynote address.

Katz, director and co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center, will present "The Rational Un-fattening of American Families: Can We Get There From Here?"

Other featured speakers will include Mark Fenton, host of the PBS series "America's Walking," and Jerry Noyce, vice chairman of Health Fitness Corp.

Dr. Tony DeLucia, professor of surgery at East Tennessee State University's College of Medicine and REACH! member, said the seminar will identify health issues, showcase best practices, and recognize regional wellness programs already in place.

The seminar focuses on a wide range of topics interrelated to health. For instance, DeLucia said perpetrators and victims of bullying tend to have, among other things, weight problems.

And he said recent study findings that dieting is ineffective in the long term show obesity is a function of physical inactivity and poor nutrition. The seminar also will address vending machine controls in schools.

REACH! was founded by Susan LaGuardia, executive director of Kingsport Tomorrow, and Doris Bush, executive director of United Way of Greater Kingsport. It is dedicated to improving community health and related economic vitality by helping create and sustain a culture of health and wellness in the region. Coalitions members come from businesses and other organizations in Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City and Southwest Virginia.

REACH! started under the Community Health Improvement Partnership in 2005 and was named in 2006. It has about 60 active members, LaGuardia said.

Bush said REACH! aims to build awareness, personal knowledge and responsibility.

The seminar will begin with an evening reception May 1 and continue with a day of speakers and workshops May 2.

Professional credit will be available for workshop attendees. Registration is $25 and includes the reception, continental breakfast, lunch and all conference events. For more information or to register call the Wellmont Nurse Connection at (877)230-NURSE.

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