"I appreciate the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in raising awareness about the multiple influences on health. It is good news that Richmond ranks well compared to other Virginia localities in terms of covering the uninsured and providing access to primary care physicians. However, our successes at ensuring access to health care services are being countered by the social and economic factors that add daily stress to the mental and physical health of residents.
"Richmond ranks 128 out of 132 localities in terms of life expectancy and 107 in terms of feeling mentally and physically healthy. These telling rankings underscore that we must do more to improve health outcomes in Richmond. The need to promote an improved quality of life is precisely the reason that I announced a Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy just last month. Policy guidance and strategies have to be employed to address some of our poor health outcomes and to bring about the needed change in social factors that impact those outcomes.
"Today's report is a wake-up call and confirmation that we are on the right track in charting our course of action. We cannot minimize the fact that 40 percent of the overall ranking in health factors is based on our high school graduation rate, unemployment rate, children in poverty, income inequality, crime and insufficient support systems for fragile families. These issues outside the primary health care system must be addressed as we seek to ensure the overall health of our community. Through the health commission, we will work with local providers and advocates to help build a system of care that protects citizens from health risks and promotes healthy behaviors such as reducing smoking, fighting obesity and limiting risk behaviors including risky sexual behavior among our young people."