Cutler to head health program

Published 5:39 pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

The new program manager for Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk aims to use her community contacts resources and to improve the 10-year plan to make Suffolk a healthier city.

Keisha Cutler, who has been in her new job for about a month, is a Suffolk resident and said she hopes to bring resources to the table from her former job at the Consortium for Infant and Child Health, part of the Eastern Virginia Medical School.



“I was ready for a change because I had been there for four and a half years,” Cutler said. “I heard about Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk and was really excited about what they were doing.”

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The program aims to develop a comprehensive approach to improving community health in Suffolk.

Health statistics for Suffolk are somewhat bleak. In addition to the high number of citizens overweight or obese, according to the Virginia Atlas of Community Health, 8.6 percent of people in Western Tidewater live with diabetes, while the state average is 7.8 percent.

The program hopes to turn that around during the coming decade. It has been developed by community representatives from health care providers, businesses, schools, churches, government, nonprofits and other interested citizens.

Its goals include getting people to be more physically active, promoting healthy eating and increased access to healthy foods, empowering residents to change their neighborhoods and lifestyles and building community and financial support.

“One of the things I feel I could bring is my experience at CINCH and resources I had exposure to,” Cutler said. Because she lives in Suffolk and worked with people in Suffolk while at her former job, “I already had some of the contacts and connections,” she said.

As a relatively new resident of Suffolk, Cutler said she is still learning about parks and other resources the city has.

“I’m trying to learn the resources for my own benefit, as well as to bring the perspective to the residents,” she said.

Cutler said she enjoys working with people who are so passionate about the various programs connected with Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk, including community gardens and a walking club.

She hopes to connect with other community health projects throughout the country, particularly those based in rural areas, to learn what others are doing.

“It’s good to connect with people and share lessons learned,” she said.

Cutler added that it is important for everyone to be concerned about the overall health of Suffolk.

“I think with everybody contributing a little bit, it adds up,” she said. “If your community is healthy, then every individual benefits from it. On the reverse, if your community is not healthy, that impacts everybody.”

To contact Cutler, call 539-1525.