I am a huge fan of George Babish, Senior VP of Organizational Advancement, at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast in Jacksonville, FL. The team of talent he has assembled to advance the healthy living portfolio is outstanding and a lot of fun to work with. One of which is Lisa Peacock, Director of Healthy Living Innovations: Chronic Disease Prevention. A little talk with her about building healthy communities:
Me: Lisa, what is your current role?
Lisa: I focus on chronic disease prevention for the entire First Coast YMCA Association. We serve 5 counties and 100,000 people through 13 locations. I work with our signature programs. I review recommendations coming from YUSA and make suggestions to our organization about which strategies we should implement and when. I go out to our communities, listen and bring back to our leadership suggestions about how to best serve the needs of the people in those communities. I work with hospital and health care systems and partners in our Healthy Living Centers.
One of my projects includes the Healthy Living Centers at the Williams and Ponte Vedra Ys. The Healthy Living Centers are the first of their kind on the First Coast, bringing medically integrated programs from Baptist Health into the Y – and making these programs more accessible to the surrounding community. More Y Healthy Living Centers are planned in the near future. The flagship Healthy Living Center will be located at the new Riverside Y along with Brooks Rehabilitation and Florida Blue. Our vision: Healthy Living Centers are a community based initiative designed to increase personal engagement and accountability for health, making it easier for people to achieve and sustain a healthier lifestyle.
Part of my responsibility is also to advance our association strategy of developing the Y as a Total Wellness Resource. This includes the delivery of our Y signature programs such as the YMCAs Diabetes Prevention Program and Enhance®Fitness, as well as our adaptive wellness programs, in partnership with Brooks Rehabilitation Health Systems. These adaptive wellness programs are designed to help those with mobility impairments through supervised physical activity. Through these programs, participants learn how to stay active and improve their health after they complete formal physical therapy.
Where we are going as an organization is exciting. I’m really involved in changing the way the community works with and perceives the Y. We are a vital part of the health of our community and the overall healthcare system.
Me: What’s your biggest challenge?
Lisa: Time. There are many potential programs to focus on and we lack the time to address them all. It takes a huge amount of time to do diligent research to ensure we develop programs that meet community need and, in the end, transforming the overall health of those participating in our programs. Everyone can think of a great idea/program—that’s the fun part. But you have to take that idea through focus groups, beta testing, fine-tuning and adjusting in order to do it right.
Me: Following up with that idea—how’d you keep your job? You needed a lot of time to show the value of the work you’re doing to the Y organization…
Lisa: I have a strong faith and pray frequently. Not in the sense of keeping my job, but in the sense of being able to provide what both the association and our communities need. As for keeping programs running, we are blessed to receive grant funding, at times, as we did to launch the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. This grant allowed one of our team members to focus on one program and really put the attention into the details of making the program succeed. As a health educator, I highly value the concept of disease prevention & lifestyle behavior change. This allows me to speak from the heart about the great work we do. I can get behind an evidence-based program that is proven to work. During the time I was the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator, I felt that my organization really trusted my judgment and I was able to develop professionally as the subject matter expert.
We received the grant and began this work in 2010 and it was three years until we flipped the business model and began receiving reimbursement for the program from Florida Blue in 2013. They are now a third party reimbursement payer. Without them, we would have a really nice feel good, proven program, but not a strong sustainable business model. Currently, all Florida Blue insured individuals have coverage for and access to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Florida Blue is also headquartered in Jacksonville, so this provides the opportunity to grow our partnership and improve the health of our community together as true local partners.
Me: If you had more time (or budget) what would that buy you?
Lisa: The additional time would buy me more organization and clarity. To have designated time to think, brainstorm with others, and research. To really navigate through and develop business plans. I have an amazing opportunity to work with some really great minds who challenge me. As a health educator, I don’t immediately think about the business model or financials. I would value more time to dive deep into this information and develop it further and to continue exploring how our organization can truly partner on holistic health outcomes.
Me: Who do you admire inside or outside your industry?
Lisa: I enjoy listening to Heather Hodge Director, Chronic Disease Prevention Programs at YMCA of the USA. It’s inspiring to hear what our national office is doing at a very high level with partnerships to advance our work.
There is an organization in our community, the New Town Successzone. They are in a high-risk health zone. Their focus is revitalizing the community. What I value most, is who sits at the table – so many different organizations, of different backgrounds and races, all with the same focus, to better the community. It is very inspiring… I always leave the meeting uplifted.