KINGSPORT, Tenn.— With the help of six employers in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, Wellmont Health System in Kingsport introduced a free community health initiative known as Wellmont LiveWell. Eastman Chemical Co., Food City, Alpha Natural Resources, Domtar Corp., Electro-Mechanical Corp., and Strongwell are the partners working with Wellmont to provide the online portal focused on a commitment to wellness and healthy living. The website, launched on July 10, allows participants to take a personal health assessment, access a health library and calendar of local health events, and sign up to receive personalized health information. “Together, with other businesses and communities, we can have a fundamental impact on our region,” Jim Rogers, Eastman’s chairman and CEO, said in a news release. According to a recent report issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, most counties in northeast Tennessee scored in the middle or lower half in their state for health outcomes, while three counties in southwest Virginia ranked in the top five unhealthiest for their state. — Rachel Landen
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Florida, accusing the state of unnecessarily institutionalizing about 200 disabled children in nursing homes
and cutting services that would allow them to receive care at home. Federal investigators visited six nursing homes around the state and identified about 200 children they said didn’t need to be there and could benefit from care at home or elsewhere in the community. The investigators found that once in the facilities, many children stay for years, some growing up in the nursing homes. The investigation found cold, hospital-like facilities where children share common areas with elderly patients and rarely leave or go outside. Investigators noted that the children are not exposed to social, educational or recreational activities critical to development. They also said educational opportunities are limited to as little as 45 minutes a day and that many of the children’s families live hundreds of miles away, according to the lawsuit. Parents say they have no other option because the state has slashed in-homes services, including nursing care for critically ill children on ventilators and feeding tubes. Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek said in a statement that the state had recently improved an “already strong program” and that 31 children with disabilities have been discharged from nursing facilities this year. Federal officials said they have “met multiple times with state officials in a good faith effort to achieve resolution of the violations,” but ultimately decided “compliance with the (Americans with Disabilities Act) cannot be secured by voluntary means,” according to the lawsuit.