Monday, January 20, 2014

Denise Austin At Health Matters Conference 2014

Coachella Valley in spotlight during Health Matters conference
Officials: Conference spurs local solutions to wellness concerns

Jan. 13, 2014

Written by
Victoria Pelham
The Desert Sun

As national health care experts and celebrities descend on the desert for the Clinton Foundation’s third annual Health Matters conference, Coachella Valley health stakeholders are optimistic about the spotlight it will once again shine on wellness — and its role as a catalyst for change.

Leaders say the seven-year initiative has become more structured with the creation of the Blueprint for Action and has established roots in the past year that will guide them going into this conference and the future.

“The Clinton Health Matters Initiative is becoming increasingly well-known here for inspiring discussion, inspiring and convening groups to come together to create solutions and then implement those solutions along the plan that our local health leaders created,” said Glen Grayman, vice-president of the board of the Desert Healthcare District.

This year’s conference in La Quinta will include panel discussions on health transformation moderated by President Bill Clinton, physical activity with fitness expert Denise Austin, mental health and prescription drug abuse prevention, leveraging digital platforms to promote health moderated by Chelsea Clinton, the health care divide and promoting healthy lifestyles, among other topics. The discussions will draw well-known figures such as Barbra Streisand, the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Montel Williams and Billy Blanks to highlight health and wellness.

A sports roundtable hosted by ESPN on Monday night brought out Lakers star Kobe Bryant and other athletes to talk about access to youth sports, its importance and how to improve that for all kids.

Health Matters 2014 will also highlight a partnership pledge between Facebook, MTV and the mental-health focused Jed Foundation aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse on college campuses.

The focus on health has led in past years to multimillion-dollar pledges toward commitments like fighting heart disease, drug addiction and childhood obesity in schools and the removal of high-sugar and processed foods in Tenet hospitals in the valley, with last year’s conference raising $100 million. The city of Coachella added a health element to its general plan as a response to the 2013 conference.

This year, valley health care hubs such as Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs will recommit to goals set up under the Blueprint for Action, like the hospital’s $1.5-million hand in the recently launched HIV-testing campaign known as Get Tested Coachella Valley. The campaign was created in part to address a blueprint goal that all valley residents will have access to an HIV testing site with sexual health experts on-site by 2018.

The initiative works by spurring conversations focused on key health concerns, drawing attention to them and later leveraging influence to raise funds.

Since the 2013 conference, 125 community health leaders developed a blueprint setting 45 specific goals in areas such as alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse, healthy eating and food quality and health care access. Organizers have been working to address these goals over the past year, forming partnerships and task forces to improve wellness across the Coachella Valley — the first site and launching point of the initiative. Other communities in cities such as Houston have also since followed the valleymodel, forming blueprints of their own to address health concerns.

“It’ll be interesting to hear how their plans differ or are similar to ours and how their implementation is going compared to how ours is moving forward,” Grayman said. “We have really set the standard and are out in front of all of the communities where implementation has begun.”

This year’s conference will focus more on physical activity than nutrition, and the work of Health Matters will affect about 400,000 people in the valley, President Bill Clinton said in an exclusive interview this week with The Desert Sun.
Grayman said this was in line with the $300,000 pledge offered up by the foundation of the Desert Healthcare District. The district has partnered with Mayor Steve Pougnet’s Healthy Planet, Healthy You project to create the Coachella Valley Health Portal, an access point for all health-related issues in the valley, including healthy eating, physical activity and sexual health. The district has also promised $100,000 for physical activity programs with the pilot focusing on childhood swimming.

“It absolutely ties in with that and it’s right on point,” he said.

Grayman said that for many, a lack of exercise is not a question of motivation, but instead ability to access places that facilitate physical activity.

“We hope to provide those who do feel the inspiration and motivation to move the places to do so,” he said.

The discussion on health disparities at the Health Matters panel will also be followed closely by valley health leaders who see firsthand the sharp distinction between the large swaths of low-income, often uninsured migrant workers in east valley communities like Thermal and Mecca who struggle with poverty-related and environmental conditions — and the comparative wealth and comfort in bordering towns of La Quinta, where the conference is being held, and Indian Wells.

“When people think about Palm Springs, they don’t really think about the disparities that we have,” said Carolyn Caldwell, CEO of Desert Regional. “I think by having the conference here, it’s really begun to shine a spotlight on the fact that we do have disparities in our community; we do have communities where there is poverty, where there is a lot of childhood obesity.

“What can we do as a community to really address those issues and concerns?” she said.

People were aware of the disparities before CHMI, but the conference has been a catalyst to draw support and community leaders together to address the concerns, she added.

Caldwell will participate in a Health Matters discussion Tuesday on healthy lifestyles alongside Warren and Martin Abrahamson with the Joslin Diabetes Center, among others.

Eisenhower Medical Center has also committed through Clinton Health Matters to fund a position through the Betty Ford Center working on substance abuse prevention in the Desert Sands Unified School District.

“The focus on wellness at the conference sends a valuable message to encourage people to take an active role in improving their overall health; it’s a message I hope more Americans embrace in 2014,” Eisenhower CEO Aubrey Serfling said in a statement.

Caldwell said the Health Matters conference will shine a spotlight on the desert and the Coachella Valley, but she’s more impressed with the message it will send.

“What this conference does is shows it really takes an entire community to focus on health care,” she said. “The hospitals can’t do it alone; businesses can’t do it alone; government agencies can’t do it all alone.
“It takes all of us to have a focus and really work on doing what we can to make sure our communities are healthy,” Caldwell said. “It’s just exciting to see all the different sectors come together around a common goal.”

Health Matters 2014

By Denise Austin Online · Updated last Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 10:08am

I was so honored to be asked to speak as a fitness expert at the Clinton Foundation's #HealthMatters2014 conference. Here are some pictures from the event on January 14!

Getting ready to speak yesterday morning!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:12am

Striking a pose in front of the #HealthMatters2014 sign!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:08am

Here I am with Dr. Travis Stork from The Doctors!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:08am

During my talk, I incorporated a couple of fitness moves!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:08am

Here I am with my sister, Anne, AND President Bill Clinton!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:12am

At ESPN's Town Hall!
Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:08am

Wednesday, January, 15 at 7:08am

Flexing muscles (at least she is) with fitness guru Denise Austin at the Health Matters conference in La Quinta. — at La Quinta Waldorf Astoria Resort & Spa.

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