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Wake up Savannah—it's time to get healthy

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TRUTH IS, it's never too late to teach an old dog a new trick. I keep learning that in my own life and in my professional career.

Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care (CVCPHC) has been providing excellent “sick care” to Savannah since 1974. Now, finally, we are beginning to provide health care—we are now working to keep people healthy as well as provide excellent care when illness occurs.

Albert Grandy, CEO of Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, spoke at the Savannah Wellness Luncheon in February about the importance of prevention in addressing chronic disease in Chatham County.
  • Albert Grandy, CEO of Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, spoke at the Savannah Wellness Luncheon in February about the importance of prevention in addressing chronic disease in Chatham County.

Last year, CVC partnered with Canyon Ranch Institute (CRI) to bring the CRI Life Enhancement Program (CRI LEP) to our patients and community. The funding for the program was provided by long-time Savannah residents Charles H. and Rosalie Morris.

The Curtis V. Cooper family had a lot to learn as the plan unfolded, but it didn’t take long for me to realize this program was very different from other health and wellness programs that are offered here in Savannah.

Everyone is welcome to visit CVCPHC where adults and children can receive health care, dental services, nutrition services, and much more. Photo: Kareem McMichael
  • Everyone is welcome to visit CVCPHC where adults and children can receive health care, dental services, nutrition services, and much more. Photo: Kareem McMichael

To put things into context, here are a few facts about Curtis V. Cooper where I’m pleased to serve as Chief Executive Officer. We have about 100 staff members dedicated to helping make the Savannah community healthier. We have five locations in Chatham County, and will open a new women’s health center this year.

We provide excellent care to 17,574 uninsured and underinsured patients, and we expect to serve about 5,000 additional people by the end of 2015. We’re a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) and are involved in a State Accountable Care Organization (ACO). We’re the largest of the Safety Net providers in Chatham County.

What that means is that we at Curtis V. Cooper are a key component along with the other safety net providers in Chatham County. Together, we try to keep our patients at the forefront of everything we do, but we also face needs in the county that are sometimes greater than the capacity to serve them. That is why focusing on prevention makes so much sense.

CVCPHC has been serving Chatham County since 1974 and currently has 5 service delivery sites, including this one at Broad and President. Photo: Kareem McMichael
  • CVCPHC has been serving Chatham County since 1974 and currently has 5 service delivery sites, including this one at Broad and President. Photo: Kareem McMichael

It’s a long road to health and wellness, which is why we look for ways to collaborate with anyone who shares our commitment to helping improve the health status of our community. Canyon Ranch Institute is a great example, plus there’s one thing the CRI LEP has that no other program does: evidence-based, proven outcomes.

We don’t have to hope the program works, we know it works.

Most important, CRI LEP is delivered to the underserved people who are the most vulnerable and have the greatest need.

Among the over 17,000 patients seen at Curtis V. Cooper, we have 6,000 primary or secondary diagnoses of hypertension; 5,000 diagnoses of diabetes; and 3,000 of high cholesterol. Obesity is a primary or secondary diagnosis for 12,000.

As we increase our patient population, we hope to be able to introduce more and more people to the CRI Life Enhancement Program to help prevent the kind of problems we much too frequently see in Savannah and specifically at Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care.

CVCPHC sites are community based and conveniently located. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 912.527.1000. Photo: Kareem McMichael
  • CVCPHC sites are community based and conveniently located. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 912.527.1000. Photo: Kareem McMichael

We know that 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. is used to treat chronic illness that is largely preventable. Here’s the economic implication of that statistic on Savannah: our number-one industry is tourism. Visitors come here for Savannah’s rich history, the architecture and beauty, the food and fun. Most of the people who provide services to our visitors—in hotels, restaurants, taxis, and so on—are the people who don’t have the best access to health care.

What happens when they become sick? Service suffers. When service suffers, our visitors are unhappy, and Savannah suffers both directly and indirectly.

Let’s change Savannah. We’re known as the Stroke Belt. We can be the Healthy Belt. By collaborating, pooling resources, obtaining other resources, and following the proven program of the CRI Life Enhancement Program, we can change the future of our city for the better.

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