Community leaders gather to plan health turnaround

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Leaders from across Harrison County will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at the Bridgeport Conference Center to plan a countywide effort to reverse poor health and move West Virginia from the bottom of national health rankings to the healthiest state in the country.

Bridgeport lawyer Bob Steptoe will lead the meeting. A cross-section of public officials, health professionals, business and community leaders and citizens have signed up to participate, along with representatives of all three of West Virginia’s medical schools.

“The health of each community in West Virginia is crucial to our future as a state,” said Clay Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for health sciences at West Virginia University. “Health, education and economic development are all tied together. By addressing all three, we will become a model for other states.”

Dr. Marsh will welcome participants to the meeting, which also will include leaders from Marshall University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

"Last to First Together," the grassroots effort being organized first in Harrison County, is aimed at six areas of health and well-being: healthy eating, tobacco use, physical activity, alcohol abuse, preventable injuries and drug abuse.

“Each of these areas is largely within an individual’s control, and each is amenable to change if people have adequate support and resources,” said Dr. Alan Mills, clinical associate professor in the WVU School of Public Health, who is helping organize the event. “Each has a significant impact on health. If all West Virginians changed their behavior in these six areas today, we would jump from the back of the pack to first in the nation.”

--WVU--

For more information, contact: Bill Case, communications director, WVU Health Sciences, (304) 293-8045 or casew@wvuhealthcare.com