A local medical leader was recognized during a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday for her efforts to improve the health of Akron-area residents.
Dr. Janine E. Janosky, vice president of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron’s Center for Community Health Improvement, was one of eight national “Champions for Change” for prevention and public health.
“It was quite wonderful to have the spotlight shine on the work we’re doing in Akron and the impact we’re having,” Janosky said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the honorees that their work is important to improve the lives of Americans.
“When it’s successful, sometimes, nobody notices,” he said of health prevention programs. “But today, we’re noticing.”
Janosky was honored for her efforts to coordinate the center’s Accountable Care Community project.
The program brings together more than 70 local public health, medical providers, health systems, higher education, safety-net services, researchers, mental-health services and other community agencies to develop community-wide health improvement programs.
The initial program provided free education and support to diabetic patients.
“We know that health care alone does not get us good health, and health care alone does not get us wellness,” Janosky told an audience of about 200 at the White House event.
According to the BioInnovation Institute, about 10.8 percent of Summit County residents are diabetic, compared to 8.3 percent nationwide and 10.1 percent statewide.
Participants received social support, nutrition education, community exercise programs and other services to help improve their health during 12 two-hour sessions.
More than half the several thousand participants lost weight and decreased their body mass index, Janosky said. The average cost of their medical care and number of diabetes-related trips to hospital emergency rooms also declined.
The Accountable Care Community project is receiving between $500,000 and $2 million a year for five years from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a Prevention and Public Health Fund created through the Affordable Care Act, the federal health reform law that’s commonly called Obamacare.
More than 900 people from across the country were nominated for the recognition from the White House. Janosky was nominated by the executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit organization focused on making health prevention a national priority.
The BioInnovation Institute is a partnership among Akron’s three hospital systems, the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical University, with support from FirstEnergy and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The partnership focuses on patient-centered medical device and product development leading to spin-off companies and job creation; medical education and training; and community health improvement initiatives.
The recognition gives prominent national exposure to the partnership’s ongoing efforts, Dr. Frank L. Douglas, the BioInnovation Institute’s president and chief executive, said in a news release.
“Dr. Janosky and the distinctive group working on the Accountable Care Community program have become a national force on prevention and public health issues,” Douglas said. “This work exemplifies our efforts to bring innovative minds together and puts the patients at the center of everything we do.”
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.