BLOOMINGTON, IL – The keys to improving McLean County residents’ health lie in community partnerships, health awareness, and system approaches. The recently created Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) will turn to those strategies to improve residents’ physical and behavioral wellbeing over the next three years.
Basis for Health Improvements
CHIP recommendations are based on the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) finished in June 2022. Numerous local organizations are involved in conducting the Assessment every three years. The most recent Assessment prioritized health care access, attention to behavioral health needs, and healthy eating/active living as the most urgent needs in terms of improving residents’ health.
“CHNA determines the ‘what,’” said Jessica McKnight, director of the McLean County Health Department. “Representatives from a dozen sectors give input on the health issues that they perceive to be the most urgent. The next step in the process – creation of the CHIP – determines the ‘how;’ the actions needed to improve community health.”
The Approach for 2023 – 2025
Achieving CHIP’s goals depends upon developing and maintaining partnerships; encouraging community awareness about health and health care access; and fostering system approaches to health information and health care. CHIP outlines goals, strategies, interventions, evaluation plans, resources, partners, and funding opportunities. CHIP aims to:
• Reduce the percentage of McLean County residents using hospital emergency rooms for non-emergent conditions such as primary care, and dental care;
• Reduce deaths by suicide and death rates by drug poisoning;
• Increase the percentage of residents who regularly see a health care provider; and
• Maintain or increase the percentage of residents living at a healthy body weight.
The CHIP outlines reaching those goals by:
• Linking lower-income individuals to a medical home and to health insurance;
• Making dental care more readily available to lower-income residents;
• Offering health care in non-traditional (brick and mortar, face-to-face) settings;
• Increasing access to behavioral health services at community sites; and
• Promoting active living in workplaces and in the community.
The McLean County Health Department, Carle BroMenn, Chestnut Health Systems, and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center collaborated to write the Plan. Until 2016, McLean County had three community health needs assessments, each conducted by a different agency. “Bringing together the County’s main health care providers in this way enables a larger positive impact on community health,” said Erin Kennedy, manager of community health for OSF St. Joseph Medical Center.
“A lot of resources are in place to meet CHIP’s goals,” said Dietra Kulicke, vice president of integrated care at Chestnut Health Systems. “It becomes a matter of coordination, pulling the pieces together, and getting those resources and that information in front of more people.”
CHIP addresses several social determinants of health – conditions in people’s living environment that affect health and quality of life and that create risks. Determinants can also contribute to health disparities and inequities. “Access to nutritious foods and physical activity are good examples,” said Sally Gambacorta, community health director at Carle BroMenn Medical Center. “If people don’t have access to those things, they’re more likely to have poor nutrition. That can lead to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and shorter life expectancy.” In response, CHIP calls on health care providers to offer education and resources to McLean County residents of all ages to encourage healthier eating and a more active lifestyle.
Access a summary and the full Community Health Improvement Plan on any of the partner organizations’ websites: McLean County Health Department; Carle BroMenn Medical Center; Chestnut Health Systems; OSF Health Care St. Joseph Medical Center.