Consumers and Public Health Representatives Gain a Voice at a National Meeting

Consumer and public health representation at a national meeting on healthy communities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided scholarship funds to include consumer and public health representation at a national meeting on creating a broad-based, consumer-oriented, health information organization called the Valeo Initiative.

A prior meeting of 24 public and private organizations had explored the creation and organization of an effort to enable individuals and communities to access the information services and resources necessary to achieve optimal health.

On August 27, 1999, Valeo was incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, with a board of directors and a more formal organizational structure. (See Appendix 1 for a roster of board members as of June 2000.)

Key Results

  • The meeting was planned for approximately 150 participants in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 13–15, 1999, with the goal of including a full spectrum of health care providers, academic medical centers, public health, community health, and consumer representatives.
  • It became apparent to organizers of the meeting that, due to financial constraints, consumers and public health organizations would not be well represented.
  • The RWJF-funded scholarships were provided to 12 representatives of these groups could attend. Of the 12 RWJF scholarship attendees:
    • Three were public health representatives.
    • Four were employees of community-based organizations.
    • Five were low-income consumers who were either currently uninsured or whose families had recently experienced periods when they were uninsured.
    • Eight of the recipients were members of minority groups.
  • The meeting, "Valeo Initiative: A Time for Decision?" was held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Consumer and public health representation totaled 32 of the 142 attendees.
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, a vote of the participants was held regarding continuing the Valeo process and self-organizing movement; attendees overwhelmingly favored continuation.
  • According to the project director, the RWJF scholarship participants added a much-needed consumer and public health perspective to the deliberations.
  • Some 23 of the organizational participants pledged financial support amounting to approximately $1,500,000. A follow-up meeting, "Creating an Epidemic of Health," was planned for the San Diego area in January 2001.

Funding

The RWJF grant of $21,509 to support the scholarships was administered through the National Health Foundation (NHF), a charitable organization dedicated to improving health care delivery and access.

In-kind administrative and indirect costs of the project were supported by the NHF. The convenors recognized the many other individuals and organizations that provided financial and in-kind assistance. (See Appendix 2 for a complete list of supporters.)

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