Two major regional institutions have joined forces to help create a healthier society.
Officials from Akron General Health System and Kent State University announced the formation of the Akron General-Kent State University Health and Wellness Research Collaborative on Tuesday at the Akron General Health & Wellness Center -- North in Stow.
The purpose is to use their combined resources to research and promote health programs, work together on various research projects -- including development of technologies -- and to encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
Dr. Thomas Stover, president and CEO of Akron General Health System, said the collaborative has the "potential of improving the health of millions of Americans by reducing the impact of chronic lifestyle-related disease."
He said Akron General, in a shift towards a model of prevention that began about 20 years ago, now has three health and wellness centers in the area.
"With health-care reform upon us, the shift towards the concept of wellcare and keeping people out of the hospital is a national imperative," Stover said.
Doug Ribley, Akron General's senior vice president of health and wellness services, said the centers combine diagnosis of illness and injury, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention.
Ribley noted a statistic that 75 percent of illness and injury are a "direct result of choices" individuals make.
"We can choose to exercise, or not. We can choose to make smart nutritional choices, or not. We can choose to smoke, or not. We can choose to wear a seatbelt, or not," Ribley said. "When you think about that, that's remarkable. Talk about the solution to the health care crisis."
For KSU's part, Todd Diacon, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said that joining the collaborative is a reflection of KSU's overall goal to "add value," including in its research.
"We seek to generate knowledge for knowledge's sake, but we also seek to generate knowledge through the research to improve the human condition, to improve human lives," he said.
Sonia Alemango, dean of KSU's College of Public Health, said the collaboration helps satisfy the college's mission to create public health leaders who understand the importance of prevention.
"I can't think of a better place to train those leaders and to give them access to the leaders in the nation than to have them engage in this collaboration," she said.
Alemango said it also meets the "second mission," to "create sustainable public health innovation."
"I believe the Akron General wellness model is an innovation that will bring us a national model and within that model will be many different types of intervention programs, innovation technologies that will come from this collaboration," said Alemango.
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