Schneck Medical Center in Seymour has received a $75,000 capacity-building grant to improve tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in Jackson County.
Susan Zabor, vice president of clinical services at Schneck, said the bulk of the funds from the Indiana State Department of Health will be used to hire a grant coordinator.
Priority areas are to decrease youth tobacco use, increase the proportion of people not exposed to secondhand smoke, decrease adult smoking rates and maintain infrastructure necessary to lower tobacco user rates.
"The vision is to significantly improve the health of Hoosiers and to reduce the disease and economic burden tobacco use places on Hoosiers of all ages," Zabor said.
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According to county health rankings data, 20% of adults in Jackson County smoke. The state average is 21%, while top U.S. performers are at 14%.
Instead of supporting existing programs, grant money will be used for new initiatives that typically couldn’t be funded, Zabor said.
"The purpose of these capacity grants is to really bring new local partnerships together with a common goal of tobacco prevention and cessation," she said. "We want to make those things possible."
The grant coordinator will work with the state to make sure the hospital is achieving certain required actions of the grant and reaching out to the community to make tobacco prevention and cessation happen.
Schneck will serve as the lead agency.
Required actions of the grant are to address tobacco point-of-sale advertising in local retail establishments, work with area schools to ensure they are free of tobacco, electronic cigarettes and smoking devices, implement smoke-free policies in local apartment complexes, increase the number of local health care providers who refer patients to the Indiana Tobacco Quitline and create a tobacco control coalition.
Zabor said the community has been building its health infrastructure through the Healthy Jackson County initiative, which began in 2016 to address the county’s high obesity rate.
"This will continue to grow upon the work that we’ve already put into place," she said.
In February, hospital staff attended a workshop to learn more about the grants.
"This was perfect for our mission," Zabor said. "It definitely aligned with the hospital’s mission of improving the health of our community, so we thought, ‘Hey, let’s go for it.’"
They submitted the 29-page application in March and received notification Schneck had been chosen as a grant recipient in May.
The grant funding will run through June 2021.
"We’re super excited about executing this grant, and hopefully, we can see great things happen in the next two years in Jackson County," she said.
Hospital board chairman Rick Smith said he thought the grant would help make a difference in changing social determinants that lead to smoking.
"It’s great to see this kind of grassroots effort," he said.