A Conversation With: Nicole MaurerExecutive director, Community Health Council of Lebanon County
Nicole Maurer, 42, was named executive director of the Community Health Council of Lebanon County in March.
She is the first full-time director for the council; the position was funded through partner WellSpan Health. She was previously a corporate wellness consultant for Aetna and owner of the Absolute Wellness Group.
Maurer has a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and a master’s degree in public health, both from Penn State University.
A Lebanon County native, she resides in West Cornwall Township with her partner of 20 years, Scott, their two children and two dogs.
Q: What are some of the programs the council is working with that you’re excited about?
A: For suicide prevention month, our suicide support task force has 10 different events planned, including the “You Matter” campaign at the schools. We have a suicide remembrance day planned to honor those lost to suicide. The homelessness coalition has Mike Yankoski, author of “Under the Overpass,” coming for a free event this November. The council is working with the Lebanon Valley Conservancy on the Tower to Town race that benefits a new urban green space. We are also doing a lot of work with other coalitions and we are always looking for new partnerships.
What are the biggest community health problems facing Lebanon County?
We are interested in the growing mental health issues in the county. We have a lot of people with recognized anxiety and depression disorders who are being treated, but there’s a growing number of people who are not being treated. Obesity continues to be a very big problem. Seventy-three percent of the county classifies as overweight but only 48 percent would say they’re overweight. We know that people with high-deductible health plans act like they have no insurance at all. Health equity is a growing problem. We have a growing ethnic population. We had a huge influx of migrants after Hurricane Maria and we’re still keeping our eye on the fallout from that and what it looks like to service that population. We are concerned about opioids. Our county doesn’t have as big a problem as surrounding counties but it is something we care about. Going back to mental health, we’re seeing very high rates of anxiety and depression in our youth. We have one of the highest rates of providers for mental health in the state yet people don’t know how to get care.
How can the business community help enhance health and wellness in the county?
I come from corporate wellness, so I think about this a lot. One of the most overlooked pieces is in respect to the thought leaders in the community. At the health and social service level, we often look at other social service providers and health care providers to represent their vulnerable populations, but one thing that is overlooked is our employers. Some of our biggest employers in the county could represent hundreds, even thousands of residents. A lot of people who work in the county also live here, and we would love to be able to work with our employers on how to get people to programs, whether it’s PR and marketing or just general knowledge of what is available to residents.
What was your favorite outdoor activity as a kid?
Going to the pool in the summer. I would go every day, I rode my bike or walked, it was a mile. We went on rainy days, we went at night – they used to have club nights with night swimming and a DJ.