Volume 04 | December 1, 2017
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Office of Population Science and Policy (OPSP) is excited to bring you the fourth 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 our year in review and looks to 2018 as we continue our efforts in improving health outcomes in our 66 county region. 
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All of us at SIU Medicine Office of Population Science and Policy wish you and your family a very happy holiday season. Thank you for your energy, compassion, and partnership in 2017. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2018 to help improve the health of residents in central and southern Illinois.
OPSP in the News

-OPSP Senior Research Development Coordinator Whitney Zahnd published an article in Farm Week recognizing rural healthcare efforts and her personal connection to rural health on National Rural Health Day.

-OPSP Executive Director Dr. Sameer Vohra presented a webinar titled Social Determinants of Health and Community-based Interventions for the University of Illinois Extension Office on November 16, 2017.

-For more news and updates, follow us on our social media pages via Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
Policy Division Update

Our Policy Division focused on many projects this year throughout our central and southern Illinois service region. Appropriate policy development is a critical component to sustainable change in communities. Advocating for community members and supporting community led change is the key to making informed, supported, and impactful improvements to the health of rural populations. Supported by research efforts, our Policy Division has focused this year on healthy and safe housing , lead based hazards , Medical Legal Partnerships , and school asthma policy .  
Science Division Update

OPSP aims to change health outcomes based on sound, evidence-based research. OPSP develops and implements its own research objectives and projects, as well as develops projects to supplement and support great research in partner institutions. This allows OPSP to make more regionally and culturally appropriate changes and implement programs that are driven by local data and local need. In the past year OPSP has been involved in projects focusing on asthma, STIs, opioid use/abuse, rural/urban health disparities, and cancer disparities.
 
We recently kicked off one of our newest research initiatives, a project entitled Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Ending the Transmission of HIV, HCV, STDs, and Overdose in Rural Communities (ETHIC). Featured at length in Volume 1.2 of The Pioneer , OPSP was awarded the ETHIC grant in August from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The focus of the ETHIC grant is to reduce the spread of infectious diseases associated with injection drug use and increase the utilization of needed clinical care. The program is led by two Co-Principal Investigators, Mai Pho, MD, MPH at the University of Chicago and Wiley Jenkins, PhD, MPH, our OPSP Science Director in partnership with other academic, private, and government organizations.
 
The first ETHIC Operation Partners Committee meeting was held in Carbondale on November 20, 2017. This meeting brought together our team, collaborators at the University of Chicago, three southern Illinois local health departments, the state public health department, the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development, and three local harm reduction agencies to develop community-informed implementation strategies for our study in southern Illinois.
Highlights

Let's take a moment to reflect on a few recent noteworthy events:

Carle Foundation Day: Medicalization of Poverty Conference: Champaign, IL, November 2-3
The idea that poverty is a factor in poor health outcomes is not new. However, the debate about the responsibility of the medical and healthcare fields to respond to poverty as a way to prevent illness is relatively new. The Medicalization of Poverty Conference introduced new ideas and strategies for confronting health challenges in rural areas. Executive Director Dr. Sameer Vohra presented a two part talk addressing rural health disparities. Policy Director Professor Carolyn Pointer and Health Policy Specialist Ms. Arden Caffrey presented on a collaboration with the Community Health Roundtable led by Dr. David Steward (Professor of Internal Medicine, Vice Chair for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement).

American Public Health Association, Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health: Atlanta, GA, November 4-8
Environmental health disparities are challenges we all live with, in our physical environment. The most vulnerable are those who are most at risk which includes our rural populations in central and southern Illinois. The APHA annual meeting allowed for collaboration with and learning from other organizations, individuals, and universities that are facing similar challenges in rural areas nationwide. Executive Director Dr. Sameer Vohra, Science Director Dr. Wiley Jenkins, OPSP affiliated faculty member Dr. Jeanne Koehler and Health Policy Specialist Ms. Arden Caffrey all presented at the annual conference.
SIU School of Medicine/University of Illinois at Springfield Research Colloquium: Springfield, IL, November 17
SIU School of Medicine hosted a research colloquium in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Springfield. The theme of the event was “Utilizing Data to Solve Illinois Problems” and included speakers from both institutions. Science Director Dr. Wiley Jenkins (pictured) represented the School of Medicine and spoke on “Injection Drug Use and Infectious Disease: Collaborations and Data to Reduce Transmission”, describing a National Institutes of Health grant funded project that he co-leads to address injection drug use in southern Illinois.
 
The Institute of Healthcare Improvement's John Whittington: Springfield, IL, November 22
The Triple Aim (improving the health of populations, reducing per capita cost, and improving the patient experience of care) is a goal for improving healthcare. At OPSP, we believe that the Triple Aim is heavily influenced by population science, public health, and policy change. Dr. John Whittington, a co-author of The Triple Aim, was invited by OPSP in conjunction with Internal Medicine to present at Grand Rounds at SIU School of Medicine about quality improvement and improving healthcare.
2018 Preview

As 2017 comes to a close, the Office of Population Science and Policy thanks you for your continued partnership. Be sure to look for our next issue of The Pioneer in February 2018. If you have a particular topic you would like featured, or if you would like more information about our current research, contact us at opsp@siumed.edu
Happy Holidays.
Connect With Us

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