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Memphis Health Forum: Area Leaders Host Community Forum on Poor Health and Effects on Quality of Life and Economy


Chronic, Preventable Disease Costs Tennessee $6 Billion Annually

Leading business, health care and civic officials will hold a forum on Dec. 17 focused on the chronically poor health condition of Shelby County and Tennessee residents. The summit will highlight how Tennessee’s decades-long position as one of the nation’s unhealthiest states poses risk to the economic potential and quality of life of Memphis-area and Tennessee communities, and will also identify state- and community-led initiatives to improve health outcomes.

The forum will be held at the University of Memphis’ Fogelman Executive Conference Center, 330 Innovation Drive, Memphis, from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. Hosts include the Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Tomorrow, Healthy Shelby, Baptist Memorial Health Care, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Regional One Health, Tennessee Business Roundtable and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Speakers and panelists will include Bryan Jordan, Chairman, president and CEO of First Horizon National Corp.; Phil Trenary, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber; Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.; Gary Shorb, CEO, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare; Rick Johnson, president and CEO, Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness; Dr. Cyril Chang, professor of economics and director of the Methodist Le Bonheur Center for Healthcare Economics at the University of Memphis’ Fogelman College of Business and Economics; Renee Frazier, CEO, Common Table Health Alliance; Cristie Travis, CEO, Memphis Business Group on Health; and Yvonne Madlock, director, Shelby County Health Department.

“Tennesseans may not fully understand the depth of the problem and the consequences,” Rick Johnson, CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness said. “The cost, year after year, in human suffering and massive amounts of capital cannot – and should not – be sustained. However, if we can come together and commit to addressing this important issue, we can help people change their unhealthy behaviors and ultimately improve our quality of life, reduce health care costs and the cost of doing business in Tennessee.”

Jordan said, “The health of our citizens directly affects the health of our community’s workforce, its businesses and in turn, our economy. Today’s employers can’t afford not to support health care and wellness solutions.”

Tennessee ranks No. 42 among all states in the 2014 America’s Health Rankings, an annual analysis of the health of the nation conducted by UnitedHealth Foundation.

High rates of smoking (No. 47) and physical inactivity (No. 45) contribute to high rates of diabetes (No. 46), and death from cardiovascular disease (No. 44) and cancer (No. 45). Tennesseans have a high rate of preventable hospital stays (No. 46) poor physical health days (No. 45), statistics that illustrate the high costs of workplace absenteeism, disability and health insurance costs.

The cost of treating preventable, chronic disease in Tennessee is about $6 billion a year, according to analysis by the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.

The forum will focus on three key areas:

  • A statistical snapshot of the health of the public, including Shelby, Tipton, Fayette, Haywood, Hardeman and Lauderdale counties.
  • How the area’s poor health status poses a threat to future economic opportunity, quality of life and to state and local financial resources. A moderated panel comprised of regional health, business and economic development leaders will discuss this are
  • Improving the area’s health profile will require local solutions involving health, business, political and civic leadership, innovative policies and access to care.

For more information, contact Christina Meek, Greater Memphis Chamber. To register for the event, click HERE.