Forum Review
Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
101 E. 8th St.Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847
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Guest Speakers: Angela Dowling, President, Regence BlueCross BlueShield; Dr. Geoff Swanson, VP of Population Health at Asante; Sarah Foster, Executive Director of the Oregon Healthiest State Initiative; Craig Smullin, Moderator, News Director at KOBI-TV NBC5 Sponsored by Regence BlueCross BlueShield Three panelists addressed the current state of health in Southern Oregon, noting recent successes, where there is room for improvement and how the community can work together to change healthcare at the local level. “Southern Oregon is doing well with access to healthcare, overall physical health and reductions in smoking,” explained Sarah Foster, Executive Director of the Oregon Healthiest State Initiative. However, she said the region is lacking in several areas, including mental and emotional health, and substance abuse. It is also necessary to focus on social issues as an important piece of the healthcare puzzle, according to Angela Dowling, President of Regence BlueCross BlueShield. “We need to find ways to bring everyone together and help those in need,” she said. Foster agreed, citing the Blue Zones Project as an example of a successful initiative. She explained this program sees results because it focuses on three areas: engaging people in their own health, working with several sectors (such as schools and grocery stores) and collaborating on local policy changes. Since the Blue Zones Project started in Klamath Falls in 2015, they have seen a reduction in smoking, a 25% increase in community pride and a rise in feelings of safety and security, Foster said. However, there is still work to do. “Our communities struggle with health,” said Dr. Geoff Swanson, VP of Population Health at Asante. “We’ve had the same problems for years and we need to make a change,” he added. Swanson suggested that community leaders look at how things are organized, as well as where and how money is spent. Dowling agreed it is important for healthcare providers to focus on new trends in and outside of the medical industry. “We need to meet people wherever they are on their health journey, so they are cared for in the way they want,” she explained. Swanson believes the healthcare industry is poised to undergo major changes, and he hopes the local community leads the charge. “If we want a different outcome, we need to do something different,” said Swanson.
State Of Health In Southern Oregon
February: Technology & Natural Resources
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847

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