Taking a long view on Virginia’s health
The year 1990 marked the release of the very first America’s Health Rankings report — when we first learned where Virginia ranks relative to every other state in overall health and wellness. As UnitedHealthcare’s CEO in the Mid-Atlantic region, I always look forward to this annual report because it provides an overview of where we stand in health compared with our peer states. As they say, we can’t improve what we don’t measure. That’s as true for health as it is for anything else.
The special 25th anniversary report provides a reflection of Virginia’s health that is at once sobering and encouraging. Areas of the public health such as infant mortality rate, cardiovascular deaths and preventable hospitalizations have steadily decreased since the report launched in 25 years ago. Binge drinking, infectious disease and smoking are down across the nation — especially here in Virginia. But there is still more work to be done.
Not nearly enough children and teens in our state are receiving proper immunizations. Nearly 30 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents haven’t received immunizations — which unfortunately puts Virginia below the national average in that area. Plus, even though infant mortality has indeed decreased, the state still reported 6.6 deaths per 1,000 live births — a number that many will agree is still too high.
Taking a long view on health and wellness in Virginia, it’s clear we need to focus our energy on encouraging healthy decision-making. We’ve already made strong strides, but we still have more to do.
When it comes to the future of Virginia’s health, we are all in it together. I look forward to continuing progress where we do well and galvanizing energy to address areas where we need improvement. At this important moment, let’s commit to making the changes necessary today to ensure that, 25 years from now, we can celebrate a quarter century of meaningful health improvement.
Christopher J. Mullins is CEO of UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic.