BeHealthyRVA: A Guiding Light for Our Community Health

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Last week was the unveiling of BeHealthyRVA.org—a new, centralized resource for the Richmond community bringing access to the most current publicly available data reflecting the health status of our community and information to help address the needs of our region.

Envera, along with Bon Secours, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, VCU Health, the Virginia Department of Health, and the YMCA are sponsors of this web-based data repository. As Chief Medical Officer at Envera Health, I was honored to help bring BeHealthyRVA.org to Richmond and represent Envera at the unveiling event. As I started learning about this new resource and how our neighboring communities Fairfax and Hampton Roads – and other communities like San Francisco – are leveraging this data to improve health, I was reminded of English social reformer and statistician, Florence Nightingale – the pioneer of modern nursing.

In 1854, Florence was part of a group of nurses who were sent to Turkey during the Crimean War to care for soldiers. Upon her arrival, Florence noticed the horrible conditions that the soldiers were forced to live in. Thinking that these conditions were the cause for many of the fatal illnesses that the soldiers were suffering from, she began enacting changes such as spacing beds three feet apart to reduce over-crowding, increasing ventilation, flushing sewers, and removing Calvary horses from the hospital’s basement. Her tireless efforts in improving care quality earned her the famous nickname, “Lady with the Lamp”— describing Florence and her ceaseless attention to their care as a guiding light and a beacon of hope through their care experience.

With her strong documentation methods, Florence saw the mortality rate from the disease drastically dropped from 42.7% to 2.2% within 6 months of her arrival. Her approach of collecting data and keeping detailed records of the effects of her changes led Florence to determine that if living condition improvements had been made prior to when the soldiers had been admitted, thousands of deaths would have been prevented. This story is about one woman using data to drive real change and improve the quality of care.

We’ve made great strides to improve care quality since the days of Florence Nightingale. But we’re not there yet. Now that we have the advantage of this resource and data we can count on, we owe it to Florence and to ourselves to leverage the gift of data and information for the betterment of our community. RVA -- I believe we can do it.

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