Late September was a busy time for the One Region team with the annual meeting at the Radisson featuring keynote speaker Governor Mitch Daniels as well as U.S. Congressman Peter J. Visclosky on the dais before 650 attendees at the event.
Times and Get Healthy Publisher Bill Masterson mentioned the competitive-collaborative mission of the health care providers here in the Northwest Indiana Region, while the governor lauded the expansion of the Indiana University medical school at Indiana University Northwest. Chancellor William Lowe also spoke to this giant step toward strengthening the level of care and attracting major talent in medicine to this corner of the state. And the new executive director of the One Region initiative, Calumet College Chancellor Emeritus Dennis Rittenmeyer, spoke of the health care council as one of the key ongoing, driving forces for change and cooperation in the progressive work of the strategic vision of One Region.
Both with the Times Board of Economists and the new 2012 Indicators Report, the second week in October proved just what a dynamic segment the health care industry is in terms of economic development as well as the quality of life here. The downside, as Dennis Rittenmeyer has reported, is the lack of quality data regarding health care issues at the regional level.
As though to offer proof of the importance of the health care council, on October 4th Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department and associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine Infectious Disease Division, called on public and private networks to join together to address the state’s looming public health issues through preventative care. Even though there have been numerous strong educational efforts in the state, some of the statistics are alarming. Dr. Caine cited the 21.2 percent of residents who smoke, the number of children who live in poverty (25.2 percent) and the 30.2 percent of our population who are obese. Dr. Caine added that state numbers show continued high levels of air pollution and cancer deaths on a state level. She also has concerns about Indiana’s ranking of 48th state in the nation when it comes to public health funding at a rate of only $42 per person annually.
Dr. Caine concurred with Rittenmeyer’s point that a data baseline needs to be established as demographics shift and health disparities between population groups persist. In Indiana, 37 percent of blacks are obese, compared with 28.8 percent of whites and 28.4 percent of Hispanics. And data from 2007 show that, in Lake County, the infant mortality rate for whites is 8 deaths per 1,000 births, and for blacks, it is 14 deaths per 1,000 births.
And the certainty of a pandemic at some point in the state is a constant worry for not only health care providers, but emergency first-responders. Not knowing where a contagious illness could start or how it could spread could cost millions of lives in a short period of time. The Times Media Company provides continuous coverage of these issues and collaborative efforts on a 24/7 basis.
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