The extraordinary health and economic crises associated with the Covid-19 pandemic are layered on top of many ongoing and seemingly intractable challenges that the THRIVE initiative is designed to address. On May 26, 2020 a significant event in the advancement of our shared community initiative THRIVE occurred through a powerful two hour webcast featuring a keynote message from the U.S. Surgeon General, VADM (Vice Admiral) Jerome M. Adams. The theme woven through the event was “All of US” who must come together to achieve the transformational outcomes we seek in health and economic success.  Dr. Adams gave the evidence and rationale for everyone to join forces while he focused attention on the imperative for business to engage.  The CEOs of  MiHIA and the GLBRA share the significant progress of THRIVE’s first year of implementation while commending the many partners who were instrumental in advancing the set of interventions.  An historic event, the signing of the Commitment to Zero Harm by the regional Health System CEOs, CMOs and the THRIVE CHO was a major highlight of the first year’s progress.  The THRIVE Portfolio Director unveiled the new set of interventions which are being launched in the second phase of THRIVE implementation.   Importantly, community leaders from across the region shared their personal commitment to THRIVE, its value to the community, provided inspiring and powerful messages and a call to action for the entire community.  Over 650 people registered for this milestone THRIVE event. The video and slides from the session are available HERE.   

No one sector and certainly no one organization has the possibility of  creating sustainable system changes that will change the undesirable health and economic trajectory of the last ten years in our region.  As a business in the Great Lakes Bay Region, you may find yourself asking, “How do I recruit and retain staff, maintain a healthy workforce, lower costs on healthcare for my employees, gain better brand recognition, and increase my profitability?” Although these actions at times may feel difficult to accomplish due to a declining population, rising unemployment, and falling productivity, there are opportunities to bring hope for the future. 

Offering encouragement and calling local businesses to action in a keynote address, U.S. Surgeon General, VADM (Vice Admiral) Jerome M. Adams provided practical steps to these issues with a nod to his campaign platform, Community Health and Economic Prosperity (CHEP), at an event hosted by the THRIVE initiative, (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy), “All of Us – Together Driving Health and Economic Success” on May 26, 2020.

The live webcast provided viewers the opportunity to hear from Adams in a keynote address, ask questions during a panel discussion with Ursula E. Bauer, PhD, MPH, (on detail to the Office of the Surgeon General), and learn more about the THRIVE initiative and its Phase 1 progress and Phase 2 launch. In addition, viewers learned of the historical Commitment to Zero Harm statement.

Adams began his keynote by explaining his Community Health and Economic Prosperity, (CHEP) platform which has a strong emphasis on business and noted how well aligned the CHEP initiative is with THRIVE. Giving recognition to the Great Lakes Bay Region Adams stated, “Your work and the work of Dr. Baase are part of what encouraged me to make this a top priority during my time as surgeon general.”

Adams called on businesses, asking them to acknowledge community health as a critical part of their day to day operations and long term business success.  He reminded that, “When businesses engage with and invest in communities, characteristics that make a community healthy are also the characteristics that make a business successful. Firms that engage and invest in communities can be rewarded with healthier workers and lower healthcare costs, they also find it easier to recruit and retain, and have greater brand awareness and profitability”.

He applauded the Great Lakes Bay Region for already showing steps of action through the interventions in the THRIVE portfolio.

“Everyone has a role to play and businesses have a lot to gain by stepping up” … “A business can change the trajectory of wellness for years to come”,  stated Adams. 

Moving on to the panel discussion, Dr. Ursula Bauer explained that a Surgeon General report will be released this fall and will further dive into  the interdependence of business and society and share examples of businesses already operating in this way.

Bauer also encouraged that, “The changes being asked of businesses are really essential and not optional for the long term wellbeing of our country”.  She reminded that in the past businesses may have extracted resources from their communities but now value creation happens in collaboration with the community. “Business is a powerful force in society and we can’t succeed without them being on board”, Bauer stated.

Moving into a focus on the THRIVE initiative, Beth Roszatycki, (former) CEO of MIHIA and Matthew Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, spoke on some of the THRIVE Phase 1 successes that have been active in the community for over 12-months.

Roszatycki explained, “There has been immediate success to support prenatal, maternal and infant health, expanding a group based model of care called CenteringPregnancy, adding CenteringParenting to the continuum of care post-delivery. Of the 500+ births via Centering, we have seen a 36-percent reduction in spontaneous preterm births; 44-percent reduction in risk of low birth weight, 28-percent reduction in risk of NICU stay and 15-percent increase in breastfeeding rates.”

Felan went on to say that there have been significant steps on business attraction. Maureen Krauss, Senior Advisor & Consultant on Business Attraction Efforts, was able to build meaningful relationships with influencers in the Metro-Detroit area where Krauss spent much of her career, identify over 50 new prospects for the Great Lakes Bay Region, and has submitted multiple Request for Proposals (RFPs) for projects for the region, and we’re only getting started! 

Also an important part of the Phase 1 initiatives, Dr. Sasha Savage, THRIVE Chief Health Officer, spoke on the historic Commitment to Zero Harm Statement and how it began with the patient safety task force. The Johns Hopkins Safety Report of 2016 revealed that medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States, which led leaders in healthcare in the Great Lakes Bay Region to seek change and create a Patient Safety Taskforce.  Savage explained, “This Patient Safety Taskforce was born out of the incredible vision and commitment of our regional healthcare leaders who, acknowledging the enormity of this challenge, bonded together and, aligned with THRIVE, determined to redesign our care delivery systems to eradicate medical harm to any of our patients.”

With those goals in mind, a Commitment to Zero Harm statement was signed live during the webcast by the following health organizations: Stephanie Duggan, MD, CEO and Clark Headrick, DO, CMO of Ascension Northern Ministries/St. Mary’s, Ed Bruff, CEO and Mike Sullivan, MD, CMO from Covenant HealthCare, Lisa Lapham, CEO and Susan Graham, RN of HealthSource Saginaw, Clarence Sevillian, CEO and Norman Chapin, MD, CMO of McLaren Health Care, Diane Postler-Slattery, PHd, FACHE, CEO and Lydia Watson, MD, CMO of MidMichigan Health, Barbara Bates, MD, MBA, CEO of the Saginaw Veterans Administration, and Sasha P. Savage, MD, CHO of THRIVE.

With such strong accomplishments from THRIVE’s Phase 1 interventions, Dr. Matthew Samocki, THRIVE Portfolio Director, had the exciting privilege to share with viewers the ways THRIVE would continue working on Phase 1 interventions along with introducing 4 new interventions of Phase 2. Samocki stated, “To define Phase 2, the THRIVE Operations Team has recently undertaken a thorough and disciplined analysis of the THRIVE Portfolio.  This work included an examination of every Phase 1 intervention, the potential Phase 2 interventions with high readiness and the overlay of the realities of the new pandemic and its co-occurring health and economic crises”.  The four interventions of Phase 2 are the following: A Focus on Education – Preparing Youth for STEM Careers and STEM Impact, Strategic Actions to Address Financial Stability, Access and Quality of Food (includes addressing food insecurity), and Strengthening Primary Care and Care Coordination models.

Dr. Cathy Baase, THRIVE Senior Fellow, reminded viewers that, “A Big-Thinking, initiative like THRIVE can only be successful when we all come together. We have come this far thanks to many partners and collaborators.  In reality THRIVE which is an initiative not an organization, and belongs to all of us.   We will need to stay the course for our best future.”

To view the recording and see the presentation slides from this live event please visit: https://thrivegreatlakesbay.org/us-surgeon-general/