September 24, 2010

Collaborative effort leads to new health resource

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- People from the 16 southernmost counties of Illinois will benefit from an innovative health care resource unveiled today (Sept. 23) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Student Health Center.

The new online Community Health Calendar highlights healthy activities and events throughout the region. It is an initiative from SIUC’s Student Health Center, the Jackson County Healthy Communities Coalition and Southern Illinois Healthcare-Community Benefits Department.

The calendar, online at, will feature information about health events that are open to the public and include an educational component. Examples of featured events include Relays for Life, health conferences, heart walks, family fun health nights and much more. The website also includes information about the local healthy communities coalition, health-related video clips and other information and resources.

“Our new Community Health Calendar allows us to partner with colleagues from all over Southern Illinois to provide for healthier communities. Prior to creation of the calendar, it was often difficult to coordinate resources and many events occurred without us even knowing about them. Now, it is much easier to attract collaborators, especially from national organizations that plan their programming months in advance, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association,” said Dr. Ted Grace, director of the SIUC Student Health Center.

The Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network includes seven local healthy community coalitions under the direction of a steering committee. That committee includes representatives of seven health departments from the southernmost 16 counties of Illinois in addition to Southern Illinois Healthcare. The healthy community coalitions include representation from social service agencies, health providers, community organizations, businesses, public health and other interested parties working to improve the health of the public in the area through programs, additional resources and as advocates.

The goal of the Healthy SI Delta Network is improving the health status of Southern Illinois through collaborative efforts. Toward that end, they are working to prevent and control the problem of prevalent obesity, reduce tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke, and increase awareness of conditions that can cause development of cardiovascular disease.

Grace and SIUC spearheaded efforts to create the Community Health Calendar and the University hosts the website. Beth Alongi, publicity promotion specialist for the Student Health Center, serves as administrator for the site.

“Because we are a rural region, it is more critical than ever for us to collaborate on projects and programming for the health of our communities. The Community Health Calendar is just one example of such collaboration and cooperation among health professionals. We hope everyone takes advantage of this new opportunity for health information in our region,” said Kris Sherrill, community health coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare.

To post an event on the Community Health Calendar, just contact the local member of the healthy communities coalition. Contact information, guidelines for posting information and a submission form are on the website.

“The Community Health Calendar allows us to highlight all of the programming that the healthy community coalitions throughout this region are sponsoring and will make it easier for everyone to take advantage of these great opportunities to be healthier,” said Miriam Link-Mullison, administrator of the Jackson County Health Department.