Trenton Health Team Executive Director to Share Unique Approach to Promoting Culture of Health in Capital City

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Dr. Ruth Perry talks today at a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation forum about the THT approach bringing together municipal and community partners, including residents, to address daunting health priorities too big for one organization to tackle alone.

Dr. Ruth Perry, Executive Director of Trenton Health Team

Dr. Ruth Perry, Executive Director of Trenton Health Team

We want to breathe health into everything we plan and do, for ourselves and for our community.

Trenton Health Team Executive Director Dr. Ruth Perry today is sharing a unique approach to overcoming the toughest health challenges facing depressed urban areas during a panel discussion at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's New Jersey Culture of Health Forum. The topic of the panel is creating the infrastructure to promote a culture of health.

“We are actively working to promote a culture of health at the Trenton Health Team through implementation of the three-year Trenton Community Health Improvement Plan,” said Dr. Perry.

“We want to breathe health into everything we plan and do, for ourselves and for our community. Our approach brings together a wide variety of municipal and community partners, including residents, to address daunting health priorities that are too big for one organization to tackle alone,” she told an audience of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leaders, government and elected officials, health care professionals, educators, and the public. “

The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) addresses five major health priorities for Trenton identified by Trenton Health Team partners and city residents—safety and crime, health literacy and disparities, chronic disease, substance abuse/behavioral health and obesity/healthy lifestyles. Trenton Health Team has entitled the plan, "Making the City of Trenton The Healthiest City in New Jersey: Creating a Culture of Health.”

The plan is a continuation of ongoing community collaboration, outlining goals associated with each priority and detailing strategies and objectives to provide measurable improvements. For example, law enforcement, healthcare institutions and social services groups will work together to improve public safety by offering violent offenders a choice—accept wraparound rehabilitative services for themselves and their families, or face lengthy jail time. Healthy food—a scarce commodity in Trenton—is another focus, with planned expansion of a Healthy Corner Stores initiative to support healthier lifestyles and chronic illness prevention.

“Community partnerships are essential to the health of urban populations,” said Dr. Perry. “When we start talking about how to promote healthy lifestyles, what happens during healthcare visits is important but it is only one piece of the health puzzle. The rest of the puzzle pieces are out in the community.”

This broader, community-level view of health has caught on in Trenton and at the state level. Trenton Health Team’s Community Health Improvement Plan aligns with the New Jersey Department of Health’s “Partnering for a Healthy New Jersey,” the state’s five-year chronic disease prevention and promotion plan. Both plans emphasize public-private partnerships and collaboration, community engagement, culturally appropriate communication, effective use of data, fostering prevention and wellness strategies, and promoting early detection and self-management of chronic disease.

The New Jersey Department of Health is also supporting CHIP efforts with a new opportunity from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention entitled, "Faith in Prevention," which focuses on obesity and should commence in early summer.

“More and more stakeholders from different arenas are recognizing health as part of the bigger social and economic picture, and we expect Trenton Health Team’s community health improvement efforts to dovetail with city planners’ vision of the future Trenton,” said Dr. Perry. “Trenton250,” the city’s long-range Master Plan that will guide Trenton through its 250th Anniversary in 2042, includes health as a major element along with economic development, education, parks and open spaces, and others.

The Community Health Improvement Plan is based on a collaborative citywide Community Health Needs Assessment led by the Trenton Health Team last year, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Each health priority that emerged from the assessment was assigned to a community leader who will lead that priority’s improvement initiative, guided by a Steering Team.

About the Trenton Health Team

Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city's major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city's Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city's active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city's fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. The THT receives generous support from The Nicholson Foundation, corporate partners and other foundations.. For more information, visit

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Becky Taylor
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