Volume 2.4 | July 2, 2018
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Office of Population Science and Policy (OPSP) is excited to bring you The Pioneer Pulse, a monthly supplement to our larger quarterly newsletter, The Pioneer .
OPSP Presents at National Rural Health Summit
Rex Brown, President and CEO of Hillsboro Area Hospital, OPSP Administrative Director Heather Westrick and Executive Director Sameer Vohra were recently invited to participate in the National Rural Health Association's Rural Hospital Innovation Summit in New Orleans.

In a presentation titled "Designing a Parent-Engaged, Developmentally-Oriented Rural Hospital," they discussed the Little Leaps project, which is designed to enhance parent/child engagement and interaction to boost children's brain development in a rural daycare setting.
Connectivity Issues in Rural Illinois
According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 56 percent of rural Illinoisans don't have access to broadband internet. This lack of high-speed connectivity creates significant barriers to connectivity. Not only are rural residents faced with slower, more expensive internet services, but they miss out on opportunities that come with high-speed internet access. Missed opportunities include work from home positions, online education and degree opportunities and telemedicine services that could make a real difference in the physician shortage that many of Illinois' rural communities face.

"We take the lack of broadband connectivity into account when we design our Social Innovation programs for our rural service area," explains OPSP Population Science Research Specialist Emilie Lohman Irwin. "Even though so many grants are focused on creation and usage of apps, we use a back-to-basics approach in our programs because we understand the challenges of finding reliable, affordable high-speed internet service in central and southern Illinois."

And while both statewide and national lawmakers are looking into technology upgrades, a quick fix seems unlikely. Until then, access to high speed internet is another rural/urban disparity that must be considered.
Reducing Asthma Triggers
OPSP works with state and federal organizations to address health disparities in Illinois related to the treatment and prevention of asthma (learn more about triggers for asthma ). Carolyn Pointer , OPSP Policy Director, has been working with communities in Springfield and Decatur to proactively remove asthma triggers from homes. 

While recent warmer weather provides opportunities for kids to enjoy the outdoors, parents and caregivers must take appropriate steps to keep children safe and healthy. Staying informed about what triggers asthma attacks is the first line of defense. Here are some other tips to preventing attacks:

  • Pay attention to air quality forecasts on the radio, television, and the Internet.
  • Check your local newspaper to plan indoor activities when air pollution levels will be high.
  • Check the pollen index daily in the summer.
  • Mold grows best in high humidity, investing is a dehumidifier will help keep the humidity levels low in your household.
OPSP in the News
OPSP Administrative Director Heather Westrick was recently appointed to the State Journal-Register’s Reader Advisory Board in Springfield. The SJ-R began the advisory board program in 2015 with the goal of soliciting deeper and ongoing input from a core group of readers and as a way to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the newspaper gets published.
OPSP Science Director Wiley Jenkins was recently featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine . Jenkins gave University of Illinois-Champaign students perspective on the difficultly involved in establishing specialized treatment centers in resource-starved areas.
For more news and updates, follow us on our social media pages via Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn .
Upcoming Events
OPSP Science Director Wiley Jenkins will be representing the Office with a poster presentation entitled, " Addressing Rural Cancer Health Disparities: A Siteman-SIUSM Partnership” at the 2018 Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity Program Meeting on July 23 .
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 .
Celebrate with us!
Please join the Office of Population Science and Policy on Sept. 19 for a reception celebrating the Office's innovative partnerships with community stakeholders to improve health outcomes in central and southern Illinois. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months!
Subscribe to The Pioneer and its monthly supplement, The Pioneer Pulse.