Healthy Jackson County receives $2.25 million grant

Community collaboration resulted in Healthy Jackson County being awarded a $2.25 million grant from the Indiana Department of Health to help improve health outcomes in the county.

The grant is through the Health Issues and Challenges program, established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2021 with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Healthy Jackson County applied for the grant in collaboration with Schneck Medical Center, Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, The Arc of Jackson County, Blessings in a Backpack, Medora Community School Corp., Medora Parks and Recreation Department, Purdue Extension Jackson County and Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

Grant funds will improve and expand public health initiatives and projects, including colorectal cancer testing, hypertension screening and monitoring, playgrounds and green spaces, including adding accessible playground equipment, and nutrition education and access to food.

“Healthy Jackson County is committed to improving health outcomes and removing barriers to healthy living at the community level,” said Bethany Daugherty, Healthy Jackson County coordinator. “We’re thankful for this generous grant and look forward to using the funds to impact health disparities in our community.”

Healthy Jackson County is a health coalition with a mission to create and promote a healthy environment to empower residents of Jackson County to achieve improved health outcomes. The organization carries out this mission by providing education and working on policy, system and environmental changes.

“An involved relationship with one’s community is essential to making progress in improving public health,” said Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of Schneck. “Schneck is honored to partner with Healthy Jackson County to drive positive change in the health of our communities.”

Susan Zabor, vice president of clinical and provider management and chief quality officer for Schneck, shared the good news with the Seymour hospital’s board of trustees during a meeting Monday night. She said a grant award letter was received June 3.

Indiana had nearly $50 million to distribute through the grant, and Jackson County was one of 210 applicants and one of 154 awarded, Zabor said.

“We did get comment back from the Indiana Department of Health that our application was the only application that got together community partners, which is exactly what they want to see,” she said.

The grant was underwritten primarily by Daugherty and Meghan Warren, both of whom work at Schneck, and was very much in conjunction with Healthy Jackson County and in collaboration with the various entities around the county, Zabor said.

The main components include getting more colorectal screening and cardiovascular guidance out to the community and installing Americans with Disabilities Act playground equipment and additional playground equipment and potential splash pads at parks around Seymour.

Also, replacing and adding playground equipment and installing walking paths and fitness trails at Medora’s park, offering monthly meals for family engagement and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables and snacks provided for Medora’s Reach for a Star after-school program, offering cooking classes and adding playground equipment for Anchor House and providing backpacks for local kids through Blessings in a Backpack.

“This is a huge win for our community and great collaboration and success for Healthy Jackson County,” Zabor said.

All applications granted more than $1 million went in front of a leadership discussion panel, Zabor said.

The grant will run from Aug. 1 of this year to December 2024, so funds will need to be obligated during that time frame.

“Improving the health of Hoosiers benefits individuals, communities and businesses, and we are incredibly grateful to our state lawmakers for making Hoosiers’ health a priority,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said. “Being able to fund programs that are addressing some of the most pressing health concerns facing our state will position us to build community-level solutions that build a brighter and healthier future for generations to come.”