CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald along with local institutional and community partners officially launched the County Health Alliance's Pilot Project "Call to Action."
Cuyahoga County has started a negative trend of chronic diseases according to Ohio Department of Health. The 2012 County Health Rankings ranked Cuyahoga County 65th out of 88 Ohio counties. Cuyahoga County and local educational institutions, hospitals and community partners have come together leading a call to action.
FitzGerald said their goal is combating chronic diseases. Health officials said heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease are the leading causes of death in the county.
Twenty-one cities have joined together in a partnership to change the health climate in Cuyahoga County; each one vowed to start internally first. Some of them said they have already seen the benefits of implementing healthier lifestyles.
Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove said they implemented free access to weight watchers and curves for employees. They also gave them free pedometers. "Free access to our workout facilities and a whole program around weight reduction in terms of food," he said. Some of their employees have lost over 100 pounds.
"We've lost over 300,000 pounds as a group," he said.
Cosgrove said it also makes good economic sense to wellness and prevention as opposed to having to fight disease.
The Ohio Department of Health also said smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Ohio as 20.2 percent of Cuyahoga County adults smoke cigarettes.
"Smoking cessation down to 8 percent, improving productivity because smokers take two weeks of smoking breaks a year, like giving them a second vacation, we think it's been a good thing both economically and health-wise," he explained.
He said they have probably saved roughly $15 million over the last couple years.
Fitzgerald said they plan to introduce this initiative to Cuyahoga County residents in two years.