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IU joins statewide initiative to ensure more equitable access to health services

For Immediate Release Nov 30, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University is partnering with the Indiana Department of Health, Purdue University and dozens of other organizations as part of a statewide initiative to ensure that Hoosiers have better access to the resources they need to improve their health.

Julia Valliant of IU’s Sustainable Food Systems Science gathers feedback about the nutrition prescription program at Lost River Market and Deli in Paoli, Indiana.Photo courtesy of the Center for Rural Engagement

The two-year Indiana Healthy Opportunities for People Everywhere initiative, or I-HOPE, will deploy teams across the state to facilitate community-level conversations and develop strategies to address the factors that prevent people from living their healthiest lives. The work will examine longstanding risk factors, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hoosiers’ health. The effort is being funded by a $34.8 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to addressing chronic disease, food insecurity, opioids, obesity, smoking and other Indiana health challenges exacerbated by pandemic-related isolation and treatment delays, I-HOPE partners will address factors that make it difficult for people to get healthy and stay healthy such as limited access to health care, affordable housing, transportation, child care, and safe and secure employment.

At Indiana University, the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the Center for Rural Engagement and Sustainable Food Systems Science will collaborate on a set of key initiatives to address health disparities and the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Community health improvement planning and implementation. This will address COVID-19 health disparities; improve and increase access to testing, preventive and lifestyle physical health, mental health and social support services; and expand resources to address basic needs in Daviess, Greene, Jackson and Martin counties. This will be led by Priscilla Barnes, School of Public Health-Bloomington.
  • A program to reduce smoking among mothers and their partners in collaboration with local health care providers. The focus will be on Crawford, Dubois, Jackson, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington counties, led by Jon Macy, School of Public Health-Bloomington.
  • A nutrition prescription program and nutrition interventions. The plan is to harness a food-as-medicine approach to strengthen local food systems, and increase health and well-being across the Indiana Uplands region. This project will be led by Julia Valliant, Sustainable Food Systems Science and The Ostrom Workshop.
  • A collaborative, community-directed project led by Gabriel Piser, Center for Rural Engagement, to reduce racial disparities in health in Dubois County. The project plans to build institutional partnerships, host community-led educational workshops, and develop a comprehensive and locally adapted communications and outreach plan.

“Indiana University remains a steadfast partner in restoring the health and resilience of our state and nation as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said IU President Pamela Whitten. “The I-HOPE initiative unites IU’s strengths with our communities striving for a healthier future for their residents.”

During the two-year grant term, Purdue University’s Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering will deploy statewide teams to collaborate with the many I-HOPE partners working on projects statewide, as well as 30 Indiana counties that have been most impacted by the pandemic.

The initial focus areas will include Cass, Daviess, Elkhart, Lake and Wayne counties, then will expand to Adams, Allen, Blackford, Clark, Clinton, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Jackson, Jay, Jefferson, Kosciusko, La Porte, Madison, Marshall, Noble, Orange, Ripley, Scott, St. Joseph, Sullivan, Switzerland, Tipton, Vanderburgh and Vigo counties. I-HOPE will support stakeholders with innovative tools to build collaboration, hear the voice of the community and guide participants to action.

Media Contact

Center for Rural Engagement

Kyla Cox Deckard

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