Tuesday, June 20

Two big announcements mark Healthy Communities Partnership ninth annual report          Send a link to a friend

[JUNE 20, 2006]  Healthy Communities Partnership director Kristin Lessen actually had several announcements to present during the agency's annual update to the community. The first announcements were tied together and weren't too big a surprise, as they have been in the planning process for more than a year. A new mobile health van is actually on order now. The news is that it has space for a dental practice.

Renamed HOPE, for health care, oral health care, prevention and education, the van is part of the Rural Health Partnership. It serves qualifying county population that is maybe without a primary care physician or health insurance and in need of dental care or unable to travel.

A nurse practitioner and a registered nurse will continue to provide core medical services on the van. They perform a wide variety of services, ranging from blood pressure and diabetes checks to immunizations and minor wound care. School physicals were successfully added last year. It was also decided to add a dental hygienist to the service last year.

Lessen said that it was with this year's review of what is the most needed in health care in our communities that dental care access was determined.

Applications are being taken for the dentist position. Lessen was proud to announce that her dentist, Dr. Morales, has committed to volunteer one Friday a month.

The new van allows a large space for the dental practice at one end, a special area for nurse practitioner exams at the other end and space between for standard testing and immunizations.

The surprise of the day was a challenge put to all groups in the partnership. In the coming year the agency will begin the process of proving their achievements.

Dr. Sharon Hull, a research associate professor in the Department of Medical Humanities at SIU School of Medicine and a family physician, was guest speaker. Hull said that she first learned about the work here when she received an excited call last year from Dr. John Record of SIU School of Medicine to "come see what is happening in Healthy Communities."

Dr. Record has been in contact with the Logan County agency for years. He was guest speaker at last year's report, and in his closing remarks he said: "You guys are doing things I don't see going on anywhere else in Illinois. Congratulations, and keep up the good work!"

Hull complimented the groups for working so well together and contributing to the betterment of the community, saying that the impact you have together is more than what anyone can do separately.

Keynote speaker Dr. Sharon Hull addresses a crowd of community leaders and health care providers.

Hull was asked to speak in accordance with her own special abilities and introduced a new process that all the partnerships will enter into this year. At 10 years, the time is right to begin measuring what has happened in people's lives because of the presence of the Healthy Communities groups, she said. Everyone knows our communities have been affected by the care and actions of the groups, but it has to be measured; measurements prove the achievement of goals.

One important reason to do this is to be able to continue receiving grants and funding, she said.

Hull then set the stage for thinking about how to begin that process.

She challenged the representatives present for proof of their accomplishments: "How do you know what you are doing is making a difference?"

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"No students have lost their lives on prom night," Logan County Emergency Management Agency director Dan Fulscher said. Numerous alternative activities and rewards have been provided for teens on that night, as well as timely crash demonstrations linking drinking and driving prior to the event.

Weekend meal deliveries have helped seniors stay in their homes who otherwise would have been institutionalized, said Margie Harris, Logan County Health Department assistant administrator.

A woman visiting the mobile unit came in saying she didn't feel well that day, Ruth Freeman, R.N., said. A new grant allowed them to test her hemoglobin. Her count was 7.3, while the normal scale is 12-16. She had three units of blood transfusion that day.

The woman would not have been able to afford the test without the grant funding.

Returning to her presentation, Hull said, "You begin by knowing your goals and mission." It takes five to 10 years of prevention history before you begin measuring outcomes.

Hull then talked about some methods to attain those measurements. "You now have a wonderful 10-year history," she said. The teens who were in programs are now young adults. See how they are doing now. You can look at medication improvements, count heads coming on the van for care or the number attending an event -- even meeting minutes can be used to process measures, she said.

At a strategic planning retreat this fall, the groups will get an opportunity to brainstorm how they will gather their measurements to prove the impact on the community, Lessen said.

After the stats are gathered, Hull will help with resources to get the word out about what Healthy Communities has done, Lessen said.

Representatives of each of the divisions of Health Communities Partnership then gave summaries of this year's activities. Please take a moment to look at those and see what your friends and neighbors are quietly doing to improve the quality of our lives in this place we all call home. They are listed below this article.

In addition to the reports, the parents of a Lincoln teen who lost his life in an alcohol- and drug-related accident a few years ago presented a scholarship. Dick and Marsha Logan offer the award in memory of Daniel Logan to a counseling or law enforcement major each year. For the second year in a row Nathaniel Kessinger was selected. He is a law enforcement major entering his sophomore year at Western University.

[Jan Youngquist]

(Click on links below for reproductions of pages in the Healthy Communities Partnership report packet.)

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