Cabarrus Health Alliance

Partners in Durham, Cabarrus Counties Recognized As HealthyCommunity50 Members In Healthiest Cities And Counties Challenge

September 22, 2016

One of hundreds of entries selected to compete for up to $500,000 in prizes through Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Association and National Association of Counties partnership

DURHAM and KANNAPOLIS, NC, SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 — A partnership between the Durham County Department of Public Health and the Cabarrus Health Alliance, with the support of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, has been selected as one of 50 members of the HealthyCommunity50 in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to receive a $10,000 community seed award and has been chosen as part of a select group of six Innovator Cities and Counties. By participating in the Challenge, Durham and Cabarrus Counties are in the running to receive a prize that will support their local programs.


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The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, launched in April during National Public Health Week. The Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years working with cross-sector partnerships to implement health innovations and data-driven solutions. Hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other public/private entities applied to be a part of the Challenge.

The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen based on plans to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: Healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

Through the Challenge, Durham and Cabarrus Counties will partner with Duke-Margolis to develop better evidence on the most effective ways to support community health improvement.  The partners will address nutrition and food insecurity, physical activity, tobacco use, integration of physical activity “prescriptions” into clinical care, and piloting healthcare delivery and payment reforms through community health workers.  In each of these areas, the partners will track performance measures linked to population health and identify new steps to support them through payment reform.

Both Durham and Cabarrus counties have enormous health needs and are excellent locations for establishing community health priorities through collaborative engagement.  The health of North Carolinians is relatively poor, with national rankings of 36th and 38th for overall health and premature death, respectively.  While not the unhealthiest in the state, these counties have pockets of extreme health disparities.

“We are committed to making Durham one of the healthiest counties in North Carolina,” said Gayle Harris, director of the Durham County Department of Public Health.  “By focusing our efforts on improving health equity, increasing access to healthy foods, educating our consumers about the benefits of eating healthy, and enforcing the smoking rule to mitigate the effects of smoking and exposures to second-hand smoke, we are confident these goals are attainable to improve Durham’s overall well-being.”

“It’s an honor to work with our friends in Durham County and Duke-Margolis to address these burdens in our county.  We see the impact poor life style habits have on our community members daily.  As public health officials, it is our duty to address these.  We want to ensure everyone has access to fresh, healthy foods and low-cost exercise options so they can live the healthiest life possible,” shared Dr. William Pilkington, CEO and Public Health Director for Cabarrus Health Alliance.

“At the Aetna Foundation, we’re seeking to reward innovation for communities implementing new ways to improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “We want the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to serve as a catalyst for collaboration in local communities around the country working to move the needle in combating health disparities.”

All selected HealthyCommunity50 members will be visited by an expert judge panel to answer questions, understand the community’s approach to the project first-hand and speak with the members of the cross-sector team and key stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs most able to show measurable change will be eligible for prize awards from $25,000 – $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other. For more information, visit

More information about the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge can be found at

More information and a brief video about Durham and Cabarrus Counties can be found at

Durham County Department of Public Health
Khali Gallman

Cabarrus Health Alliance
Erin Shoe

Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
Ellen de Graffenreid

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