Annie Thornhill, the Executive Director of American Heart Association, Nashville shares how they’re prioritizing health issues to close the gap in Nashville’s Health Disparities.
Q: What is your organization’s mission?
To be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives.
Q: How are you and your organization working to improve the health and/or well-being of Nashvillians (or Middle-Tennessee)?
Thornhill: There is a fifteen-year difference in life expectancy between zip codes – this gap exists because of inequities in access to care, healthy food, and other resources that allow us to thrive. Here in Middle TN, we have prioritized three health issues that could close the gap in health disparities. They are: blood pressure, nutrition security, and tobacco use/ vaping. We are working with healthcare and community partners to put in place sustainable systems changes to improve blood pressure, improve access to affordable and healthy food, and decrease tobacco use.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand and solve one public health issue right now, what would it be?
Thornhill: Access is key. People cannot make a healthy choice if they do not have a healthy choice. Increased access to care would address many of the fundamental issues we see in healthcare today. If we could ensure that all people in our community had access to affordable care, our work to ensure high quality of care would reach everyone. Additionally, our work to weave together clinical and community practices would mean that more people have access to the community resources that exist to drive heart health.
Q: What are you most optimistic about right now when it comes to your organization and improving health?
Thornhill: Our community is eager to come together and collaborate on solving the issues that are keeping us from ideal heart health. The collaborative spirit among nonprofits, healthcare, and community organizations means that we will make a lasting and meaningful impact on the heart health of our community.
Q: How can people get involved/help your cause?
Thornhill: We’d love to work more closely with community leaders! Please contact us email@example.com to start a conversation on how we can collaborate for the heart health of our community!
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