Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

UPMC launches “Healthy Harrisburg,” program designed to help residents manage chronic illness

UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg

Organizations across the country recently have been taking steps towards inclusivity and equity in their services.

UPMC Pinnacle has had this goal in mind for a while now.

The healthcare provider is launching “Healthy Harrisburg,” a program offering resources for people facing chronic illness who lack adequate access to healthcare.

“Data from our community health needs assessment shines light on where health disparities are in our community,” said Tina Nixon, vice president of Mission Effectiveness, Diversity & Inclusion at UPMC Pinnacle.

“Healthy Harrisburg” will begin as two, eight-week series of activities focused on fitness demonstrations, educational sessions, insurance enrollment and healthy living mentorship. The program starts on July 11 and will look for Harrisburg residents who are managing obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Adults 18 years or older can register.

Nixon hopes the initiative will especially help the uninsured and underinsured population, as well as communities of color.

“One of the things the COVID crisis did for us is put a spotlight on disparities in communities of color,” she said. “This helped move the initiative forward.”

UPMC Pinnacle will partner with faith-based organizations, fitness instructors, businesses and health experts to provide education for participants. They have also been deliberate about finding professionals of color to lead events, Nixon said.

Porcha Johnson, founder of Black Girl Health, a digital outreach organization, will host some events. Her organization’s mission parallels UPMC’s.

“We need to improve access, but we also need to improve education,” Johnson said. “I hope they get the motivation and knowledge they need to take action steps.”

The first day of the program will be virtual, but Nixon said UPMC will be monitoring the crisis to decide if events can be held outdoors.

Activities include Zumba, strength training, smoking cessation education and diabetes education, among others.

When the weeks of education and interaction are over, Pinnacle staff will follow up with participants to monitor their lifestyles and changes in health.

“I always look at it as meeting people where they are,” Nixon said.

After the first two series of “Healthy Harrisburg,” the initiative may expand across the seven UPMC hospitals.

“We are really trying to make Harrisburg a great place for everyone,” Nixon said.

For more information or to register for Healthy Harrisburg, visit To learn more about Black Girl Health, visit their website.



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