Health summit to involve outside sectors

2013-11-10T06:00:00Z Health summit to involve outside sectorsVanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

MERRILLVILLE | Building off the concept that different sectors in society are intertwined, One Region will host its inaugural health summit this month, inviting stakeholders from an array of backgrounds.

Members of the One Region health action initiative called the Northwest Indiana Health Advisory Council met earlier this week for an update on plans for the Nov. 22 gathering.

The idea is to host similar summits for each of the One Region quality of life indicators, which include transportation, environment, education, culture and public safety, said Dennis Rittenmeyer, executive director of One Region.

“It will serve as a model for One Region, for all the other indicators,” he said.

One Region was founded in 2008 by former Times Media Co. Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. and has 16 action initiatives.

The initial idea was to organize one or two indicator-focused summits a year. But the estimated $15,000 price tag for one event, coupled with the time and effort to plan, may hinder that, Rittenmeyer said.

He will have a better idea of what is feasible after experiencing the health summit this month.

One Region hired Stanhope Consulting to plan and run the event. Consultant Hubert Morgan last week described details of the meeting, from the strategic seating arrangement, to explaining the follow-up outreach process for invited guests who had not responded yet.

The idea is to have 300 people from varied sectors and demographics sit down at tables for the summit. Using keypads, they will answer questions on the spot, giving real-time answers that will help guide the summit.

“It will be driven by what comes out,” Rittenmeyer said.

A goal of the summit is to stimulate “rich discussion” and actions to enhance the quality of life in the Region, Morgan said.

People from sectors outside the indicator bring a different perspective that those close to the issue may not have considered, he said.

For example, if transportation is a factor in people not accessing health care, then people from the transportation industry may have ideas to address that, Rittenmeyer said.

Organizers invited a mix of genders and races from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. As of Wednesday, about one third of the invited guests confirmed their attendance.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who co-chairs the health action initiative, asked whether Morgan was concerned about that low number.

Morgan said the two weeks leading up to any summit is always the time for a heavy push, with emails and phone calls going out to people who haven't responded.

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