Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham Health Alliance was recognized with the Health Transformation Award at the Communities Joined in Action conference in San Antonio, Texas on February 16. The award specifically recognized the work of Sarah Weller Pegna, Coordinator for the Chatham Health Alliance, in leading the implementation of the Exercise is Medicine program.
A collaborative initiative between Piedmont Health Services and the Chatham County Public Health Department, Exercise is Medicine is a program originally designed by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine to reduce chronic disease burden through physical activity referrals.
“Exercise is Medicine embodies what the Chatham Health Alliance seeks to accomplish and highlights the importance of building partnerships to improve health outcomes,” the nomination letter states. “This model is replicable, evidence-based, and targets health disparities by design. Given these factors, the Chatham Health Alliance, through Sarah’s leadership, has transformed health in the county and will continue to be a driver of population health in the years to come.”
Sarah acknowledged the many partners involved in this initiative, stating, “This award, and the success of Exercise is Medicine, is really reflective of the whole Alliance, especially our partners at Piedmont Health Services, and a dedicated group of Alliance members on the Alliance’s Obesity Subcommittee. Without these individuals and their dedication, we would not have been able to realize this project.”
The Health Transformation Award is given to one idea or project nationally that “demonstrates a breakthrough model that achieves better health outcomes, addresses health inequities/disparities, improves access to health care or promotes a culture of health.” The Chatham County YMCA, Chatham Hospital, and Piedmont Health Services offered letters of support for the nomination. “All of Chatham should be very proud of this well-deserved national recognition,” said Dennis Streets, who served as the inaugural Chair of the Chatham Health Alliance. “It symbolizes the tremendous effort underway across our community to bring together public and private organizations and an engaged citizenry to improve health and health care.”
Chatham Health Alliance Chair Daisy Womble referred to Sarah as “a talented professional,” adding, “I am not surprised she’s getting an award.” Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long cited Sarah’s remarkable leadership in fostering partnerships during her tenure as Alliance Chair. “Sarah’s diligent efforts to engage local organizations and community members in this work will have a lasting impact on the community’s health.”
Since its formation in early 2015, the Chatham Health Alliance has brought together dozens of organizations and community members who are passionate about improving health outcomes in Chatham County. Along with this recognition, the Alliance has been awarded funding through The Duke Endowment’s Healthy Carolinas initiative (which supported Exercise is Medicine), a Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Community-Centered Health grant, and is one of fifty participants selected for the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge through the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Counties, and the Aetna Foundation.
To learn more about the Chatham Health Alliance, visit: www.chathamnc.org/