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Charles and Rosalie Morris launch health initiative with Canyon Ranch Institute

Savannah Business Journal Special Report

Feb. 24, 2014 - UPDATED - For Savannah media leader Charles H. Morris, preventative health care is a passion. With his wife Rosalie Morris, the couple announced a new initiative last week in Savannah, a partnership with Canyon Ranch Institute designed to advance health literacy, prevent disease, and eliminate health disparities in Savannah.

The non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute (CRI) announced a partnership with Connect Savannah and Savannah community leaders Charles H. and Rosalie Morris to bring CRI's best practices to Savannah.

"My wife Rosalie and I want to help make Savannah even better," said Charles Morris last week, in making the announcement. "Rosalie and I have experienced the life-changing impact of healthy lifestyles, and we want our community to have the same opportunities." 

The first program made possible through CRI's partnership with Connect Savannah and Charles H. and Rosalie Morris is the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program (CRI LEP) in Savannah. The Morrises invited CRI to team up with Savannah organizations because of their love for Savannah as well as their concern for the community.

Savannah is a vibrant city located in the "stroke belt" across the Southeast United States, where high rates of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes contribute to some of the greatest health disparities and highest medical costs in the nation, according to Morris.

"Chronic diseases are the most costly health problems facing our nation today. The good news is that most chronic disease can be prevented," according to Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and President of Canyon Ranch Institute. "We are honored that Savannah has welcomed Canyon Ranch Institute's evidence-based approaches."

Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, Inc., a federally qualified health center offering a wide range of health services to the uninsured and under-insured in Savannah, is a key collaborator in this effort. The CRI LEP in Savannah will be offered at no cost to participants, and will be held at Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care and at the Charles H. Morris Center at historic Trustees' Garden.

"As part of the 'stroke belt' of the United States, there is a tremendous need to address chronic disease in Savannah, especially among the medically underserved. The Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program has achieved impressive results in other areas of the nation, and I know we can do even better in Savannah," said Albert Grandy, CEO of Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care.

"The CRI LEP uses our proven integrative health model to help advance health literacy so that people have the knowledge, tools, and support to prevent disease," added Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research. "Through the CRI LEP, Savannah residents will participate in group sessions and one-on-one consultations that address physical activity, nutrition, behavior change, stress management, and social support."

A Core Team representing the integrative health model – physicians, nurses, exercise professionals, nutritionists, behavioral health specialists, faith and spirituality experts, community health educators, and others – are participating in a specialized education program designed by Canyon Ranch Institute, in order to implement the CRI LEP in Savannah.

"We need health services that address the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – for all people, regardless of their situation," said C. MeGill Brown, Ph.D., Pastor, Second African Baptist Church, and Board Chairman, Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care. "The CRI LEP in Savannah can have a lasting impact because it emphasizes all aspects of a healthy life, not just physical ailments."

The CRI LEP in Savannah will start serving patients of Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care in March 2014. Planning is also underway for a Theater for Health program to leverage Savannah's rich arts and cultural scene – to help improve health and well-being. Long-term plans of the partnership include the development of a demonstration kitchen and a community garden on the site of Savannah's historic Trustees' Garden, home to the Charles H. Morris Center, a multi-event venue restored by Charles H. Morris in 2008, and neighbor to Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care.

"Connect Savannah and Charles H. and Rosalie Morris are making it possible for Savannah residents to experience the power of healthy living in numerous ways, so that people can make an enduring personal connection to a life of wellness," said Jennifer Cabe, M.A., Executive Director and Board Member, Canyon Ranch Institute.

Charles Morris is president and CEO of Morris Multimedia, Inc. headquartered in Savannah. Morris Multimedia Inc. is the parent company of Morris Newspaper Corporation and Morris Network, and is among the largest privately held media companies in the United States. Founded in 1970 in Savannah by Charles H. Morris, the company today owns and operates over 65 publications, network affiliate television stations, and other media related ventures in ten states and the Caribbean, including Connect Savannah and The Statesboro Herald.

The total investment by Charles H. and Rosalie Morris, Connect Savannah, Canyon Ranch Institute, Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, and Canyon Ranch, in the CRI Life Enhancement Program, the demo kitchen and kitchen garden at Trustees' Garden, and Theater for Health at Trustees' Garden is several million dollars in cash - plus workforce time, donated space and supplies and freely shared intellectual property, according to a spokesperson.

Future projects include a community garden and a demonstration kitchen to be used for the activities that will be going on, located at the Charles Morris center property on Bay Street.

Information about the CRI LEP in Savannah is available at http://bit.ly/1eiOvqR.  

(L to R, front) Kathy Kurazawa; Rita Teel, RYT 200; Merry Perry, ANP; Amy Martin; Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS; Charles H. Morris; Rosalie Morris; Joycelyn Cornthwaite, M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE; Michelle Grandy, RYT; and Christine Ferrelle, PNP .  Back (L to R) Chuck Palm, M.P.H.; Brian Williams; C. MeGill Brown, Ph.D.; Palmer Steverson; Linda Davis, FNP-BC; Albert Grandy, CPA; Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D.; Maria Malcolm, Ph.D.; and Jennifer Cabe, M.A., Photo byJim Byous Photography

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