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A new behavioral health room in St. Joseph Memorial Hospital's emergency department is designed for patient safety. 

SIH, SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and Jackson County Health Department have collaborated to assist wound care patients with diabetes to better manage their condition. This collaboration was made possible by obtaining a $1,500 Telligen Community Initiative grant.

“Chronic wounds, such as diabetic ulcers and pressure ulcers, continue to be a serious health concern for patients in southern Illinois. Patients with diabetes often have trouble with wound healing due to poor management of their diabetes,” said Johnna Smith, nurse executive, SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. She further noted, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, that southern Illinois has some of the highest percentages of adults with diabetes - at almost 15 percent of the population. “Delayed care for wound treatment impedes healing and could lead to complications,” she continued. “This program will help combat that.”

The TCI concept plan, derived from a foundational academic/public health partnership partially funded by the Illinois Nurses Foundation, allows critical access hospitals such as SIH and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital to partner with an area public health department – in this case, the Jackson County Health Department – to create a dyad. This dyad then works together with a McKendree University MSN Population Health student to create a plan to address a specific health issue for the population it serves.

The selected population health student will develop this diabetes awareness program and create patient education that will help these patients help themselves. The student will work with SIH, SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, and the Jackson County Health Department to assess the current processes and to determine where support and assistance are needed. Once initial meetings are held and observation has taken place, the student will research best practices, develop a plan for improvement, and share with all partners to obtain their feedback and input. Specifically, partners include the SIH Diabetes Care Team, SIH Wound Care, SIH Community Benefits, Jackson County Health Department, and the Diabetes Resource Team. The student will then work to design and implement the plan.

“There have been many moving pieces to ensure these population health projects happened for our rural and underserved populations. We needed to find all the right people to comprise our steering task force plus secure key partners in Illinois’ public health departments and critical access hospitals. Then we needed all these people to come together and work towards completion of a common goal,” said Dr. Janice Albers, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC, CLC, Project Chairman, McKendree University. “We now know this work is just the beginning… McKendree University will not only be offering 12 $1,000 scholarships to population health students later this year (application deadline in December), we also plan to write another grant to renew and build on the foundational work from this year.

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“Our focus remains to empower our students to make a difference in rural and underserved areas by learning through experience in conjunction with public health departments and critical access hospitals,” Dr. Albers continued. “By expanding the current plan, we will be helping people achieve a better and healthier way of life.”

Securing grant funding through TCI, McKendree University partnered with the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), Illinois public health departments serving rural populations, the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), the INF, and the Southern Illinois Public Health Consortium (SIPHC). Together, their goal is the development of tailored patient education that can be used to assist patients in managing their diabetes and in helping wound healing.

SIH, SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, and the Jackson County Health Department are not only partnering with this project, but also spearheading the food pantry capacity-building interventions program. There are also two other TCI projects underway in Illinois.

The remaining two include the Massac and Hardin counties’ Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) colorectal screening and the partnership between Marshall Browning Hospital and Perry County Health Department with the program, “Building a Healthier Community: Tamaroa.”

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