For an emerging model on community partnerships in public health, look to Nashville, Tennessee. Music City’s Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in stakeholder collaboration to work toward a healthier, more sustainable city. Bill Purcell, former mayor and five-term veteran of the Tennessee House of Representatives, addressed an audience at the ACHP Annual Boards of Directors Symposium in April. Purcell said he recognized the importance of making health a priority and finding out how Nashville stacked up against other regions.
“We have become much clearer about the areas in which we compare favorably and where we need to do work,” Purcell said. Today Nashville knows “if we are truly going to be a leading city for health then we have to do the work and that includes continuing and expanding the research.”
And research they did. Championed by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Vital Signs is a project tracking issues and creating solutions for Nashville. Through this effort, a broader conversation began about the link between health and quality of the city’s workforce.
The realization that health and productivity go hand-in-hand sparked a dialogue between the Chamber and FTI Consulting’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy. A pilot study was commissioned to determine cost, quality and access to health care in Nashville. Stakeholders from the public and private sectors pulled resources to launch the study, which offered the city a clearer picture of both needs and opportunities in the region.
Nashville’s example of community-driven solutions aims to serve as a model to help cities across the country improve the well-being of the people who call them home.