ESMMYC Collaborated with Community at SC Population Health Summit

IMG_2025-375SC Population Health Summit Fosters Healthy Collaboration

by Elizabeth W. Duda

Rock Hill, SC (May 20, 2016) – Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) actively contributed to the first annual South Carolina Population Health Summit, facilitated by the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina ( Seeking to improve SC “population-level” health, participants discussed how to partner with community members and get resources for healthcare, public works, social services, transportation, and access to healthy food. The Summit gathered community, non-profit, business, government and healthcare leaders from five SC regions, in close-to-home locations, to discuss regionally-relevant health opportunities. Regions connected by videoconference to share conclusions and keynote presentations.

Sheila Caldwell, founder of The Heart2Heart Foundation, cited the alarming data of rising heart attacks in women ages 35-55. She underscored the “need to start making healthy choices now; habits that students learn in school come home. People need to learn healthy eating and exercise habits as children.” Sadie Kirell, clinical lead nurse of the Rock Hill School District, reminded us that, “as role models, parents and teachers can take simple steps like not rewarding kids with candy, to avoid the undesirable emotional connection between achievement and unhealthy food. Instead of cupcakes in the classroom for celebrations, fresh fruit or granola bars teach healthier, enjoyable food choices.”

Dr. David Keely, local family medicine and public health physician for the past 35 years, and ESMMYC Advocacy Committee chair, highlighted one positive effort that all community members can support – the simple “Let’s Go 5-2-1-0” message: “5 fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks.”

Sylvia Echols of The #1 Question: Is it Good for the Children worries about socioeconomic and racial disparity in healthcare and access across York County. An example of this was when Ernest G. Brown of the North Central Family Medical Center, Rock Hill, highlighted a challenge to obtain healthcare that many people in low-income areas face: “This medical facility is the only one on this side of town. While families in wealthier communities may have two cars, a motorcycle, and a boat, folks from poorer communities may not even be able to access a public bus. Transportation is a real barrier to healthcare.” Mr. Brown supported the collaboration and encouraged people to promote health-related initiatives throughout these neighborhoods and churches.

IMG_2026-375Andy Kaplan of the Carolinas Healthcare System highlighted that “it is vital to include key stakeholders in the discussion from the beginning of this process – including the most vulnerable community members who need to have a seat at the ‘head of the table’ because they provide valuable insight and expertise around the issues; they also offer potential solutions related to social determinants of health that impact the community. Other key stakeholders include business and faith community leaders who can provide input, influence and support.” Sandra Oborokumo of the Rock Hill City Council welcomed collaboration to promote health equity.

Dr. Martha Edwards of Rock Hill Pediatrics identified the two biggest challenges for children in our community as access to mental health resources and York County’s high rate of childhood obesity. “The two really go hand in hand,” she added. “Easy access to mental health services, such as parent education programs and family counseling, can be the key to addressing many physical health problems facing our community.” In addition to obesity, she listed substance abuse, smoking and school success as challenges that can all be addressed through increased on focus on family mental health. Dr. Edwards is a “big fan of programs like Girls on the Run of the Tri-County, RAP (Raising Awareness of Parents) sessions in the schools, and NAMI’s ‘Ending the Silence’ programs – all of which help to promote healthy approaches to local mental and physical health challenges.”

Participants agreed to meet again to continue action planning to address the identified priorities.

Organizing Partners were:

·         South Carolina Office of Rural Health

·         Department of Health and Environmental Control

·         South Carolina AHEC, Excellence in Health Through Education

·         SC Primary Health Care Association

·         SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health


·         South Carolina Hospital Association

·         Lowcountry AHEC, Walterboro

·         Pee Dee AHEC, Florence

·         Winthrop University, Rock Hill

·         Upstate AHEC, Greenville

·         Sisters of Charity, Columbia

Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina coordinates action on shared goals to improve the health of all people in South Carolina. Its priorities are healthy babies, healthy minds, health equity, healthy children and healthy bodies.

Eat Smart Move More York County is a collaborative, community-based coalition comprised of members striving to reduce the number of overweight and obese residents in York County, SC.