Charlotte Parent Explains What 'Culture of Health' Means to New Orleans

What New Orleans has done to improve its public health and what "Culture of Health" means to the city, according to Charlotte Parent, director of health of the New Orleans Health Department.

What New Orleans has done to improve its public health and what "Culture of Health" means to the city, according to Charlotte Parent, director of health of the New Orleans Health Department.

Transcript (modified)

What is the “Culture of Health” and how does it change how health and healthcare are viewed in the United States?

“Culture of Health” to New Orleans means that we begin to take everything from the view of what makes us healthy. And that is not just related to healthcare, it’s related to activities that promote health and wellness, it’s related to a state of mind in terms of how we feel healthy, sometimes it’s related to the environments that we live in, the activities that we partake in, the food that we eat, and just that generalized feeling that health is at the center of everything that we do.

What has New Orleans been doing to improve its public health?

So one of the first things that we did was about 3 years ago was make a decision for the health department that we would no longer be the providers of safety net healthcare services. You know, one of the things that this health department has done for the vast majority of years that it’s been in place is provide safety net healthcare services through the city government, basically. And for us what’s happened is there was a series of clinics that developed that were more neighborhood-based, federally qualified health centers that produced better quality, better access, and better services for our citizens.

This was a matter of how do we partner with someone to do work that they can provide in a more cost-effective way, and at better quality than what we could do in the health department—and that was our decision. And once we did that that freed us up to really focus on some of the health issues that our community wanted us to focus on, that were outside of our direct services. Some of those things included violence prevention work, work around obesity and physical fitness, work around emergency preparedness, and children and family issues.

So the few funds that we get, or the general funds that we get from local government can now be expended to these other issues that affect not only the people who have safety net issues, but truly the whole city.