From Our CEO

Colorado Can Be Number One

Last week marked the launch of the Colorado Health Foundation’s annual Health Report Card.  For the past seven years, the Colorado Health Institute has served as a partner in this effort, helping to shed new light on how we are doing as a state.

We frequently wish that our grades improved faster than they do.  It’s helpful to remember, though, that what we aim to improve and measure are elements of our health and community that are slowest to change. Replacing a hip, repairing a valve or removing an infection will have short-term, immediate results.  Encouraging fellow Coloradans to eat healthier foods, find time to exercise, drink less, smoke not at all and practice safe sex, well, those changes take years.  Decades even. 

This year we analyzed an interesting question. Namely, “What if we were No. 1?”  This is not some far-fetched, unrealistic goal where every Coloradan is fit, active and chooses wisely. Rather, this analysis asks what Colorado’s health would look like if we just performed as well as the best-performing states in several categories.

Here’s what Colorado would look like, each year:

  • 2,100 more babies would be born at a healthy weight.
  • 123,000 more kids would have access to a medical home.
  • 32,000 fewer high school kids would smoke.
  • 376,000 adults would not binge drink.
  • 16,000 more seniors would get all their immunizations.

Here at the Colorado Health Institute, we hope that this serves as a rallying cry for all of us.  We can be No. 1. The 2012 Colorado Health Report Card gives us a place to start.

Michele Lueck is the president and CEO of CHI.