Economically, "the healthier patient is going to pay off" for the hospital, Nichols says. "This is a nice crossover for a healthier community as we enter the new world of (value-based care)."
Town leaders have written the "principals" of what they envision of a healthy community to be in their master plan. "They have developed streets that include sidewalks and bike lanes that aren't barriers to people [going out and walking]. And there is a lot of emphasis on local foods, and access to fruits and vegetables," Nichols says. "It sounds a little crunchy, but it's really not, it can be done."
For its work, Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene has been awarded the Carolyn Boone Lewis Living The Vision Award from the American Hospital Association reflecting the AHA's "vision of a society of healthy communities where all individuals reach their highest potential for health."
While the community is actively promoting its program, there's a way to go. Less than half of its residents—49%—know about the hospital's goals. "We know if we're going to be successful, we need everyone on board with Healthy Monadnock 2020," the hospital says.
It's a lofty goal, but 2020 is a long way off and Nichols is enthusiastic. In the meantime, the rest of America might consider doing what Cheshire County is actively trying to accomplish.