P.O. Box 409095
Chicago, IL 60640
Length: 6 minutes, 1 second
Interviewer: Neil McLaughlin
Interviewee: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
[00:00:02.12] Neil McLaughlin: All right, doctor. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made the healthcare workforce one of its top issues. What are two or three things that the industry could be doing right now but isnt to ensure that we have adequate commune power in communities?
[00:00:17.28] Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: Well, youre quite right that having the workforce for the 21st century is a critical issue for everyone in healthcare and I thinktwo things that I would recommend. First is to recognize that the workforce in the future is going to require different kinds of interactions between physicians, nurses, other healthcare providers, than it has in the past. And we have learned through some of our programs, like Transforming Care at the Bedside, that when you can create different opportunities for healthcare providers to work together to improve quality of care, they are more satisfied and they learn skills that, ultimately, will be helpful for the 21st century. So, I think one of the key things is to have our institutions creating new opportunities for healthcare providers to work in different ways and to foster team engagement.
[00:01:31.03] The second is, frankly, to work as much as we can to try to diversify the workforce. It is very clear that we do not have the right healthcare professionals in the places where theyre needed most. And, as a nation, we are facing shortages across the board, but were also facing a workforce that, frankly, doesnt reflect what America looks like. And so I think the more that we can not only encourage people to work as teams, but also recognize that we need to create a much more diverse workforce, well be in better shape in the future.
[00:02:12.08] Neil McLaughlin: Right now it looks like universal coverage will have to wait for the results of the 2008 elections. In the meantime, is it up to the states to try to do something on coverage or are there interim steps that congress could be taking this year to achieve that?
[00:02:31.27] Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: One of the things that is facing us in 2007 is the reauthorization of (the State Childrens Health Insurance Program), and of all the accomplishments over the last 10 years to expand coverage, SCHIP is clearly the success story. It has lead to millions of children being covered who werent covered before, and now in 2007 Congress has the opportunity to not only reauthorize that very successful program, but to expand it in ways that all kids can get covered. So, in addition to the many important things that are happening in the states, I think we cant lose sight of the fact that we have a great opportunity to get all kids covered this year. And I wouldnt be so pessimistic that were going to have to wait until the next election. There are tremendous activities going on in the state and all of those build momentum toward substantial change, and I, frankly, am more optimistic than Ive been in years.
[00:03:39.21] Neil McLaughlin: Another issue thats prominent in the news is childhood obesity. It seems that for every step forward we take on the subject, were two steps back. Portion sizes keep growing, school athletics keep shrinking, kids spend more time playing video games and watching TV. How can the foundation, or anyone else for that matter, start to change the dynamic on this issue?
[00:04:06.25] Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: Childhood obesity is the area that I think threatens our nation the most because its one of those areas, like smoking, that if we dont attend to it, it is going to cause much more morbidity and mortality in the future. And the bottom line is people need to be able to choose a healthy lifestyle and so much of what we do in our country these days makes it hard to choose a healthy lifestyle.
But theres some bright spots. If you look at whats happened in Arkansas, a state that has had one of the highest childhood obesity rates, it now has had that rise in childhood obesity level off, and maybe even take the slightest bit of a turn down. And why is that then ithowd they accomplish that?
Theyve accomplished it with a multiprong effort. Making sure that the schools offer healthy choices to kids in terms of what they eat. Making sure that theres physical activity in the schools again. Knowing the numbers. Measuring BMI, measuring it accurately and sensitively, so that parents understand when their kids are at risk and then offering them some very concrete alternatives like replace sweetened beverages with water or skim milk or low-fat milk, like reducing the amount of screen time that your kids have, encouraging them to play, to have physical activity as a family. We know from whats happened in Arkansas that there are policy changes that can actually make a difference in childhood obesity. So its not as bleak as you suggest.
[00:06:00.19] Neil McLaughlin: Thank you, Doctor.