Innovation in Community Wellness

Innovation in Community Wellness

by Chairman RK Whitehead, Whitehead Die Casting

The VISION 2030 process identified health and healthcare as significant issues in planning for the future of the community and implemented the following as one of the 15 Big Ideas: Gainesville-Hall County is a model for providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to its residents. An important part of this initiative is an innovative set of wellness programs, which involves residents in managing their own health.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Committee, led by Mimi Collins of The Longstreet Clinic, has embraced this goal. The committee facilitated an annual Healthcare Conference for several years with guests and speakers including Congressman Nathan Deal and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In addition, the committee regularly facilitates discussion on access to healthcare, changes in the health insurance market and the challenges and opportunities facing local providers.

In 2007, the Healthcare Committee asked the Center for Health Transformation to help develop a strategic plan for the goal outlined in the VISION 2030 health statement. As a result, the committee modified the annual fall event into HealthSmart, an interactive health and wellness expo, and hosted the first “corporate challenge” 5K run in 2008. The committee also began planning other initiatives that support, encourage and embrace wellness and health in our community, such as the HealthSmart Restaurant Challenge, a recognition program identifying restaurants in the area that offer “healthy” choices on their menu.

On April 16, the Greater Hall Chamber hosted the 2nd Annual Get Fit Stay Fit 5K Run/Walk event that included corporate and community teams and some 1,200 participants. Get Fit Stay Fit has become a unique workplace event that kicks off months prior to the event with an employee fitness training program and concludes with “Hall County’s Largest Office Party.” (See race results on page 13.) The event includes all levels of fitness, from competitive runners to social walkers, ages 10 to 70, and continues to provide education, training and various opportunities for the community in physical activity and nutrition. State Senator Lee Hawkins, a Gainesville dentist, was on hand for the event as the Honorary Chairman. “I think it’s great to see all these folks like this. This is what makes a community, events like this,” he said.

To join the Healthcare Committee, contact Brittany Holzclaw, 770-532-6206 or