Good Place Akron


Sustainable Health Care
starts with collaborations

Written by  Gina Burk


Local collaborations focus on building a system with a "triple-bottom line" measure of social, economic and environmental impact in an industry affecting approximately 16 percent of the national and regional economy, according to government statistics.

June GAINS presenters GAINS

Bill Downing discussed the disparity in quality of life among Northeast Ohio neighborhoods at the recent Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability meeting.

The life expectancy of inner city residents in Cleveland’s Hough Neighborhood is 64 years of age, but in Lyndhurst, only seven miles away, it's 90 years of age, said Bill Downing, former president of Downing Exhibits, a leading sustainable company in Copley and current medical student at Cleveland State University.

Downing was among the speakers to discuss active living and healthy eating as keys to a more sustainable health care system at the GAINS (Greater Akron Innovations in Sustainability) meeting, which took place at Musica in Akron earlier this month.

Downing inspired the group with an account of his personal journey to become an “urban community healer” and work to reverse the health crisis faced by residents in urban environments.

Moving the needle on chronic diseases such as diabetes is the focus of a collaborative effort by ABIA, said Jennifer Teller, PhD Head, Chronic Disease Initiatives for Community Health Improvement, Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), who highlighted how partnerships leverage multi-sector resources to improve community health.

Chris Shaffer, of Big Head Adventures, shared the organization's goal of encouraging active lifestyles and environmental stewardship in the urban core of Akron. He started the company, he said, because he personally was facing “pre-diabetes and that was a problem he wanted to fix doing what he has always done; live an active lifestyle.”


GAINS Additionally, statistics show that 65 percent of the adult population in the United States is overweight, and almost one in three is obese. Eighteen percent of children are obese.

Regional and local innovations in sustainable healthcare include: The Accountable Care Community (ACC), which are physicians and health care organizations collectively combating the burden of disease with public, community and faith-based health organizations; Northeast Ohio Medical University and Cleveland State University, partnering to meet changing health care needs within urban communities; and entrepreneurial initiatives to promote community health through sustainable outdoor adventures and Akron’s zip-line.

The next GAINS meeting will take place July 10 on the topic of Sustainable Transportation. GAINS is a local gathering of sustainability practitioners who focus on advancing sustainable values and practices in the marketplace. The salon style meetings are free and interactive and open to anyone interested in learning about and engaging with community partners on the leading edge of innovations in sustainability.


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Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6:15 p.m at the Musica complex, 51 E. Market St. in Akron.


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