In the summer of 2015, under the guidance of Dr. Nancy Welch, Director of the Chesapeake Health Department, a discussion began with representatives from the City of Chesapeake, Health Department, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare about declining health conditions in our community. This small working group extended an invitation to community agencies and service providers to attend a roundtable discussion on September 16, 2015. Led by a rousing challenge from then mayor Alan Krasnoff, the attendees decided that the best approach to affecting the declining conditions would be to work collaboratively in a systematic effort based on the community needs assessment.
An early decision was made that the format to best enable this collaboration was the establishment of a hybrid organization designed by Dr. Welch and Steve Best, retired Fire Chief and CEO of Southeastern Virginia Community Foundation. To bring this collaboration to life, an intensive visioning retreat was held on November 20, 2015 with agencies, businesses, and citizens who wanted to participate in this new community initiative. The group established guiding tenets including the vision, mission, and values for the hybrid organization named Healthy Chesapeake.
With support from a state grant, an experienced community development professional was hired to fully develop the organization into a 501(c)(3), facilitate strategic planning, establish the Coalition and formalize a governing Board. The initiative launched with over 20 agencies joining the voluntary Coalition and Board of Directors that included a diverse representation of city departments, faith-based, local business, and civic organizations.
What Drives Us
We are driven by data and utilization of taskforce recommendations generated by our Community Needs Assessment and the Chesapeake 2035 Comprehensive Plan as well as the Chesapeake Comprehensive Plan For Children And Youth, Chesapeake 55 and Better Comprehensive Plan and Homelessness. We are also influenced by the annual County Health Rankings, which weighs our city outcomes in health categories relative to the other cities in Virginia. Our ambitious long-term goal is to be the healthiest city in Virginia.
We have embraced the population health philosophy, recognizing that health and well-being are interconnected with social, cultural, physical, economic, and other factors. We serve as the designated population health manager for the Chesapeake Health Department, and as such, work to implement Virginia’s Plan for Wellbeing. However, our decision making strives to be ground-up. Through our Coalition, we collaboratively tackle prioritized needs and opportunities with community-based work teams that develop and implement responses supported by the Healthy Chesapeake staff and Board.