While I am not a golfer, I have an appreciation for its history and the role that Arnold Palmer continues to play, even into the 21st century. A native Pennsylvanian, Palmer learned the game from his father (head pro and groundskeeper at LaTrobe Country Club) and is one of the best professional golfers the game has ever seen. The famous Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando has been home to the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 1979. Palmer has distinguished himself as a philanthropist as well through Arnie’s Army, a charitable foundation that supports institutions and organizations that work to benefit children and families, and support health, well-being and the environment.
It was a real pleasure to visit the Bay Hill Club to speak to my colleagues from Health Central Hospital. Here’s the health system history—A local community hospital, part of a public health system called Health Central, was sold to a burgeoning regional powerhouse called Orlando Health, with Orlando Regional Medical Center at its core. Health Central was actually owned by a quasi-public entity, the West Orange Healthcare District. Board members of the West Orange Healthcare District and executives from Orlando Health have renewed their commitment to implementing population-based programs to improve the health of the citizens they serve. Think of them as “the new Arnie’s Army.”
With those famous theme parks in their backyard and philanthropic support from Arnold Palmer and his wife, Orange Health District might be a fascinating bellwether case study for population-based care. As they build their clinically integrated network, they have made practicing population health a top priority, and hence, my gracious invitation from them to work with their board and physician leaders. They’ve connected with leaders like Tracy Swanson, the Director of the West Orange Healthcare District, and Dawn Willis, the publisher of the West Orange Times.
I saw my role as a connector, a person to help them see how other clinically integrated networks are tackling comparable community-based problems. With this in mind, I focused on the work of the National Quality Forum, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. While they’re just getting started on their journey, I think this integrated network is worth tracking, and I know I’ll be paying close attention to their progress. You should add the West Orange Healthcare District to your list of places to watch as the population health agenda unfolds.