Rural Health Stakeholders Convene for 2018 Illinois Rural Health Summit

Two-day event in Springfield aims to create blueprint to improve rural health

Springfield, Ill. –SIU School of Medicine Department of Population Science and Policy, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, UIC School of Public Health, SIU School of Medicine Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development and the Illinois Department of Public Health recently hosted an influential group of rural health experts and stakeholders at the 2018 Illinois Rural Health Summit in Springfield, Illinois, on August 6-7. The two-day event gathered information and inspiration to begin drafting and executing a blueprint to improve the health of residents in rural Illinois.

“Our mission at SIU Medicine’s Department of Population Science and Policy is to improve health in central and southern Illinois, a mostly rural, 66-county service region. However, we know that we can’t do this alone,” said Dr. Sameer Vohra, Chair, SIU Medicine Department of Population Science and Policy. “Our hope for the Summit was to bring together dynamic, influential individuals to have frank and candid conversations of the challenges facing our residents, what innovations already exist and what we can accomplish together to improve the health of our State.”

The Summit addressed issues such as mental health and opioid abuse, health and housing, caring for an aging population, children’s growth and development, economic development and health, building a rural health workforce and rural nutrition and fitness.

“Many rural communities have been hit hard by the opioid crisis. The US Department of Health and Human Services knows there is not a single federal solution to this issue. That is why we are working with state and local governments, providers and academic institutions to support and share the successful community-based innovations that are already making a huge difference in this battle. The Illinois Rural Health Summit is a perfect example of the collaboration necessary to combat rural health challenges such as the opioid crisis,” said Douglas O’Brien, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Over the next few months, Summit participants and organizers will work to analyze information gathered at the Summit to find patterns and draft a set of sustainable and scalable solutions and policy recommendations for rural Illinois.

“We know the health challenges of our rural populations are great, but the Summit showed that the energy and ideas to make real change exist,” continued Dr. Vohra. “We look forward to working to improve the health of rural communities across the state of Illinois.”