Wellness Now was allocated a little more than $3.5 million during the next five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Community Transformation Grants, said Vicki Monks, Oklahoma City-County Health Department public information officer. As one of the 61 regions awarded the grant, Oklahoma County will use the money to decrease chronic diseases, control health-care spending, and encourage healthier lifestyles and tobacco-free living.
“It’s putting resources into programs that are designed to help people that need the most help,” said Mick Cornett (pictured), Oklahoma City mayor and Wellness Now co-chairman.
OCCHD was awarded the grant because of the Wellness Now initiative, which formed in April 2010, and the sheer unhealthiness of Oklahoma residents.
The Wellness Now program and its more than 55 partner programs already had come up with a number of program ideas to make Oklahoma a healthier state.
“They’ve been brainstorming and assessing what the community needs are for more than a year now and have made some very specific recommendations,” Monks said.
A total of 60 percent of the grant money will go to fund the projects of Wellness Now partners like the YMCA, and Monks said 40 percent will fund OCCHD health programs.
The grant money will fund healthy programs at places in the Oklahoma metro area, such as the new 54-acre Health and Wellness Center to be located in an area between Interstate 35 and Interstate 44.
The money also was designated to help curb the growing rate of obesity in Oklahoma, which Monks said is 46th on the list of unhealthy states, and will become the most obese in two years if something doesn’t change.
“We’re not only talking about diseases that really affect the quality of life of the people who have them, but we’re also talking about diseases that raise the cost of health care for the whole system,” she said.
WELLNESS NOW POLICY
Wellness Now is striving to achieve tobacco-free living by changing age-old Oklahoma policy.
From 7:30-9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, Wellness Now co-chairmen Cornett and Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn will speak about changing state tobacco laws at the Wellness Now Policy Forum and Legislative Breakfast.
“The citizens really want us to tighten down the effects of secondhand smoke and the places secondhand smoke is going to be encountered,” Vaughn said.
The forum will be at Metro Technology Center, Springlake Campus, 1900 Springlake Drive, in Room H.