Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Weighs In: Building Healthy Communities After Disaster

May 28, 2013, 2:31 PM

Resilience is about how quickly a community bounces back to where they were before a public health emergency—and only a healthy community can do that effectively.

RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, weighed in on what it takes to create healthy, resilient communities—and shared examples of some communities that have done just that—through a post on the professional social networking site, LinkedIn. Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey is one of about 300 LinkedIn Influencers. Read an excerpt of the LinkedIn post below.

It is a testament to the American spirit that less than a day after a tornado brought a 20-mile-wide swath of death and destruction to Moore, OK, public officials and residents unequivocally pledged to rebuild the community. “We will rebuild and we will regain our strength,” Gov. Mary Fallin told a news conference after viewing the devastation.

Similar assertions were made after Hurricane Sandy wiped out entire neighborhoods on the New York and New Jersey coasts eight months ago, and I am sure they will be made again after future natural disasters. I applaud the can-do determination. But I also suggest that we take a minute and think, not just about rebuilding, but creating something better. Why not rebuild communities where health and wellness is a top priority?

Imagine rebuilding neighborhoods that make healthy living an easy and fun choice, that offer more places to safely walk or bike, more open spaces where families can exercise and play, and more restaurants that offer healthy choices and provide nutritional information on their menus.

This is not just some do-gooder’s pipe dream. New Orleans has shown us that it can be done.

>>Read the full post from Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey on LinkedIn.

>>Read a collection of related NewPublicHealth posts on building community resilience:

  • A group of public health professionals came together at the Public Health Preparedness Summit in Atlanta, Ga., to discuss just how to think about, plan for, measure and improve community resilience in the face of any kind of emergency, be it a hurricane or an act of mass violence.
  • RWJF's John Lumpkin weighed in on public health's role in supporting community resilience—both in the short- and long-term following a disaster. He shared interesting statistics, such as: "The demand for mental health services was higher five years after Hurricane Katrina than it was immediately after the hurricane hit."

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.