Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Urges Leaders to Bring Wellness Concepts to Communities

Press Release Date:  Monday, September 24, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Gwenda Bond

Targeting obesity, building healthier regions are topics of state wellness summit

FRANKFORT, Ky. –  Governor Ernie Fletcher today urged leaders in health care, public health, education, local government and business to work together on regional solutions to combat obesity and chronic disease.

The Governor delivered the keynote address at a statewide summit on “Get Healthy Kentucky” – the Governor’s program to promote wellness and physical activity.

“It used to be that health care professionals, public health, businesses, education and others operated fairly independently of one another,” Governor Fletcher said. “Now we realize we must all work together and increase our collaboration to make a true difference in the health of our families and communities.”

The Governor urged summit participants to develop collaborative wellness action plans to take back to their communities.

“By combining the efforts of local communities with state goals and resources we are tackling the issues of obesity and our high smoking rate. It is also important for us to appreciate the difference good food choice can have on our health,” the Governor said.

The Governor recalled how, as a family physician, he frequently counseled patients to shun lifestyle habits that translated into high rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

“It was an equally important moment in my patients’ lives when I said that they could be taken off their blood pressure or cholesterol medicine because they were no longer constrained by their illness – because they changed their lifestyle,” Governor Fletcher said.

Governor Fletcher asked the University of Louisville and the Governor’s Office of Wellness and Physical Activity (GOWPA) to serve as co-sponsors of the summit because of their success with preventive health initiatives.

UofL has implemented Get Healthy Now, a successful worksite wellness program for its faculty and staff. The program helps UofL employees take a proactive approach to health care and, in turn, helps the university reduce health care costs.

GOWPA administers Get Healthy Kentucky, which encourages Kentuckians to regularly engage in physical activity, practice good nutrition and support tobacco prevention and cessation.

“The state universities and Get Healthy Kentucky are at the forefront of what I believe is a revolution for the state,” said Governor Fletcher. “We’re on the cusp of a major cultural shift in the commonwealth, and these two wonderful programs are putting people on the right path.”

Get Healthy Kentucky is among Governor Fletcher’s major initiatives aimed at healthier Kentuckians and strong communities. Its overarching goal is to reduce Kentucky’s rates of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The Governor has hosted more than a dozen Get Healthy Kentucky forums across the commonwealth, and First Lady Glenna Fletcher has been an ambassador for the program.

Also under the Governor, Kentucky has begun screening newborns for 29 medical disorders – up from just four under previous administrations – and turned a deficit-ridden Medicaid program into a model of efficiency without reducing benefits or enrollments.

During the summit, participants heard from UofL President James Ramsey and Indiana University’s Dr. Lloyd Kolbe, who addressed current health issues and presented a model for effective health management programs.

A panel discussion led by Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell included Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, Dr. Gerald Sturgeon and Wendy Carlin, who discussed community health initiatives, prevention of child and adult obesity, and the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky. 

To learn more about Get Healthy Kentucky, visit Information about UofL’s Get Healthy Now program is at