The Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation has recently joined with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The Friedell Committee was formed in 2007 because a concerned group, spearheaded by Gil Friedell and Jane Chiles, knew that Kentuckians were concerned about their ability to obtain health care for themselves, their families and others in their communities, and that the fragmented and dysfunctional healthcare system in place at the time did not meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s citizens. The group agreed at the outset that their objectives could be best served by establishing a statewide committee, modeled after the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, to ensure the inclusion of this set of values in any assessment of the current health system and in any proposed system modification(s). The group defined ten principles that outlined the organizations values base:
  1. Health systems are accountable to the public in every aspect of care and resource use.
  2. Health systems are responsible for promoting the health of individuals and populations.
  3. Health professionals are responsible for providing safe and effective care
  4. Each individual has equal access to effective care without regard to race, gender, culture, geography or socioeconomic status.
  5. Care for each individual is safe and of high quality.
  6. Care for each individual is affordable.
  7. Care for each individual is efficient and of high value to recipient and family.
  8. Patients and families are treated with respect.
  9. Patient rights are clearly expressed and honored.
  10. Individuals and communities share responsibility for their health and for the cost of care.
Over the intervening years, federal legislation was enacted (The Affordable Care Act) that changed the landscape and discussions in the healthcare field. What did not change is the need for affordable, accessible, equitable care. The discussions also broadened over the years to recognize the impact of other areas on health, such as education, jobs, trauma, etc. To that end, the Friedell Committee also broadened their scope and adopted the idea of working towards a “Healthier, Wealthier, Wiser Kentucky”.

The Friedell Committee was a great supporter of Gil Friedell’s concept that “if the problem is in the community then the solution is in the community.” Early on it was recognized that diabetes was a huge problem in Kentucky, and it could be used as a model for change and improvement of the problem of chronic disease. In 2014, he published “The Great Diabetes Epidemic: A Manifesto for Control and Prevention,” coauthored by J. Isaac Joyner. It lays out a plan for identification of those suffering from diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes and methods for prevention and management of the disease.
With this broadening of scope, the hope to create a model for prevention and management of chronic disease, the changing landscape of healthcare in the U.S., and with changes to the strategic plan of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Friedell Committee found that its actions were becoming more and more aligned with those of the Foundation. In 2018, discussions began to find a mutually beneficial way to combine the efforts of the two organizations.

A December 4, 2018 News Release announced the result of those discussions:

“Two statewide health promotion organizations today announced that they have joined forces to strengthen advocacy for state and local policies for improving health in Kentucky. In announcing the unification, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation emphasized the organizations' congruent missions and committed volunteers, and the value of speaking with a single, amplified voice to influence community and statewide health policy change.

Current members of the Friedell Committee with an interest will be appointed to the Foundation's Community Advisory Council, which advises the Foundation's Board of Directors on overall policy and strategic direction. Foundation Council members also serve as liaisons with Kentucky communities, putting the Council at the center of the strategy shared by both the Foundation and the Friedell Committee to expand community engagement statewide. The new members will join the existing 22 Foundation Council members.

In addition, the Foundation's Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion of the Year award has been renamed the Gil Friedell Health Policy Champion award. Dr. Gil Friedell, the first director of the Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky, helped launch a nonprofit advocacy education organization in 2005 that later became the Friedell Committee. Friedell passed away in September of this year.”