Volume 03 | November 1, 2017
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Office of Population Science and Policy (OPSP) is excited to bring you the third issue of The Pioneer Pulse, a monthly supplement to our larger quarterly newsletter, The Pioneer. The Pioneer Pulse is filled with news and updates on population science and policy issues affecting our region, state, and country. This month’s issue focuses on Medical Legal Partnerships, National Rural Health Day, project highlights, resources for doctors in rural areas, and upcoming OPSP events. 
OPSP in the News
  • A recent US News & World Report article highlighted the OPSP/University of Chicago partnership studying the opioid crisis in southern Illinois. A news release, found here, examines the background and goals of the project.

  • The Springfield Journal-Register featured an article that examines the Medical Legal Partnership, led, in part, by Carolyn Pointer, OPSP Policy Director.

  • OPSP Executive Director, Dr. Sameer Vohra published an opinion piece in the Springfield Journal-Register thanking teachers for their important service, prompting a reply from the immediate past-president of the Illinois Education Association, Cinda Klickna.

  • The Illinois Times article entitled "What's Behind Bad Behavior" examines aspects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress and their long term effects on behavior. The article addresses ways to make an environment cognizant of experiences of both students and teachers.
Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play can have a tremendous effect on health risk and outcomes. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the CDC, these conditions known as the social determinants of health make up around 80% of health outcomes. Addressing these social determinants for patients often requires legal assistance and support. Many underserved populations experience unmet legal needs and do not have access to legal aid that can help overcome these barriers. Medical Legal Partnerships (MLPs) are designed to confront the lack of access to legal services in underserved populations and help ensure that patients can have healthier futures. The National Center for Medical Legal Partnership advocates for lawyers to serve as specialists on health care teams to confront complex health related social problems.
At SIU School of Medicine, our Medical Legal Partnership partners with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation to bridge the gap between health care and legal aid delivery to better serve our community. SIU’s MLP also engages with our medical students to introduce them to the social determinants of health that our patients face. Our medical students find that this increases their awareness of factors that affect a patient’s health before they ever get to a hospital or clinic. 
National Rural Health Day
November 16 th  marks National Rural Health Day. The 2010 Census estimated that nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas, including nearly 1.5 million Illinoisans. Rural communities feed our nation, are great places to live and work, and abound in social capital. However, these areas often experience unique healthcare challenges. People in rural areas have less access to healthcare due to a scarcity of physicians and higher percentages of uninsured or under-insured residents. Despite these challenges, rural healthcare systems, public health departments, community organizations, and individuals are passionate, innovative, and creative in finding solutions. Our Office is honored to partner with hospitals like Hillsboro Area Hospital in central Illinois to improve healthy child development and local health departments and community organizations to address the opioid crisis in southern Illinois. We want to highlight our region's efforts and successes as we celebrate National Rural Health Day. For more information about National Rural Health Day, please visit https://nosorh.org/calendar-events/nrhd/ .
Project Highlight
 SIU SOM’s Office of Population Science and Policy is collaborating with University of Illinois- Springfield on a Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D. Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research grant. Researchers from both institutions are examining access to care for COPD and asthma patients who visit the ER for their symptoms. Access to care includes distance to pharmacies and distance to health care providers. Researchers are also looking at the geographic distribution of people who frequently visit the ER for COPD or asthma symptoms in Sangamon County. This information can help in the future to design targeted interventions for people with the most need. 
On a recent trip to Chicago, OPSP team members met Dr. Diane Misch and her staff at Illinois DocAssist.

Illinois DocAssist provides psychiatric consultation and educational workshops to Medicaid enrolled primary care physicians, nurses, and other health providers who see children, adolescents, and perinatal mothers with mental health or substance use disorders. Mental and behavioral health access is a barrier for many in our country and state, but with programs that provide services to rural areas, we can start to tackle that barrier together.

Using consultation and training, DocAssist expands the reach of psychiatrists by helping primary care providers screen, diagnose, and begin treatment while waiting for local mental health providers to become available. In rural areas, where mental health resources are particularly scarce, DocAssist has become a virtual psychiatrist supporting primary care physicians in their provision of mental health services to communities that may not have specialty mental health services.

The program is directed by lead consultant Dr. Diane Misch, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Medical Director of The Young Child Clinic at UIC. The free service is funded by Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. In addition to telephone consultations, mental health workshops including ADHD, depression, trauma/anxiety, substance use, eating disorders, obesity, domestic violence & perinatal mental health can be scheduled. For more information, call 1-866-986-2778 or visit www.docassistillinois.org
Upcoming Events
Office of Population Science and Policy faculty and staff are routinely invited to speak at local, statewide, and national events. If you are interested in learning more about our Office, or would like to have a member of the Office attend or speak at your local event, please contact us at  opsp@siumed.edu  .

  • Heather Westrick, MBA, OPSP Administrative Director will be presenting on rural community coalitions and how they drive health outcomes at the 2017 Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) Annual Meeting in Champaign, IL on November 14-15. The break-out session is entitled "Building Rural Community Coalitions to Improve Population Health."

  • OPSP will have one poster session and one round table discussion at the Midwest Forum on Hospitals, Health Systems and Population Health in Chicago, IL November 29-December 1.
  • Dr. Sameer Vohra, OPSP Executive Director and Heather Westrick, OPSP Administrative Director will host a round table discussion explaining the Office of Population Science and Policy and our efforts to improve health outcomes in central and southern Illinois.

  • OPSP's David Crumly and Illinois Department of Public Health's Nancy Amerson will present a poster titled "Using Community Health Needs Assessments to Investigate Asthma Health Priorities."
Connect With Us

Office of Population Science & Policy
201 E. Madison Street
Springfield, IL 62702
(217) 545-7939