Coalition members work collaboratively to improve the health and well-being of all who live and work in Somerset County
Healthier Somerset, a coalition of businesses, schools, non-profit organizations, healthcare providers, government, and faith-based organizations, was formed six years ago to work collaboratively to improve the health and well-being of all who live and work in Somerset County. By sharing information and creating alliances among individuals and organizations who are working toward mutual goals, efforts to create a healthier Somerset County are strengthened and more likely to succeed.
Healthier Somerset is unique because of our recognition that the health of Somerset County residents has a direct bearing upon our physical, emotional, and economic well-being. Because of this, the coalition brings together government and the private sector as well as many nonprofit health organizations.
It’s this collaboration across sectors that sets Healthier Somerset apart from other outstanding coalitions across the state and across the country. And to Somerset County’s credit, health has become the driving factor in County planning and economic development.
Health has always been big business in Somerset County. Many of the global pharmaceutical companies were headquartered or had a major presence here. Now, big pharma has been augmented by many small pharma and biotech companies. Life sciences are an integral part of Somerset County’s economy.
Given its importance to our fiscal bottom line, that’s even more reason to make health a priority. And consider how that’s being done:
- Somerset County’s Regional Center Partnership (Somerville, Raritan, and part of Bridgewater) is implementing a Healthy Communities strategy that will lead to the design and building of environments that will encourage increased physical activity and provide more choices for healthier living.
- Somerset County government actively promotes wellness among its employees, earning statewide recognition for its program. Earlier this month, the County was named a “Healthcare Hero” by NJBiz.
- Workplace wellness is a core message of Somerset County Business Partnership. Their Workplace Wellness Committee offers education and training throughout the year, with an annual Wellness Fair in October.
This focus on health in Somerset County has happened by design. Healthier Somerset is proud to partner with these organizations, and we believe that our coalition has helped to create a climate that encourages and promotes these activities. Since our inception, we have always focused on these goals:
- Engage Somerset County in active participation in good health habits
- Increase access to choices that promote health lifestyles; and
- Promote policy changes that improve the health and well-being of all who live and work in Somerset County.
Ultimately, the greatest reward of this focus will be an improvements in the county’s overall health. In the six years since Healthier Somerset was formed, our overall ranking increased from the third healthiest county in New Jersey to the secnd healthiest county. The second healthiest ranking in 2014 was the highest ranking Somerset County has ever achieved, and the ranking was retained in 2015. In 2016 we ranked second in “healthy behaviors” and were ranked third overall.
Healthier Somerset continues to grow with new partners coming on board. We welcome all organizations who share our goals, even if health is not the major mission of the organization, such as faith-based communities and organizations that represent minorities in our community. More information is available on the Healthier Somerset website at www.Healthiersomerset.org.
Rebecca Perkins is the project manager for Healthier Somerset.