Last modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
IU evaluating health care program that helps Amish in Washington County
A pilot federal program to improve health care education and access for the Amish, Mennonites and other target populations in a southern Indiana county involves the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Two IU faculty members in the HPER Department of Applied Health Science, Catherine Sherwood-Puzzello and Michael Reece, are directing the evaluation of the three-year, community-based project in Washington County.
The Rural Health Outreach Program is receiving $200,000 annually as one of 13 Rural Health Outreach Grant recipients in the United States. The program involves a partnership with Hoosier Uplands, a nonprofit, community action agency in Southern Indiana; Washington County Memorial Hospital; and the Washington County Health Department. The primary goals are (1) to provide primary health care services in the outlying areas of Washington County, (2) to provide transportation services when needed to these health care services, and (3) to increase health education, outreach initiatives and dissemination of health information in Washington County.
There are several hundred Amish and Mennonites residing in Washington County who are part of the target audience for these programs, officials said.
"Our primary purpose is to work closely with Hoosier Uplands, the health department and hospital officials to determine the effectiveness of this program," explained Sherwood-Puzzello, whose main research interest is public health education. "Officials with these three agencies have all the necessary tools to make this project be a success and serve as a model for future programs. They approached the university for help in developing and administering the necessary evaluation procedures for the program," she said.
Reece, with extensive research experience in the community health field, said this is a prime example of what universities should be doing in terms of community involvement. "We hope that this project can develop to involve many of our students as part of the evaluation team because we want to do everything we can to make sure the Washington County community health needs are met," he said.
The Rural Health Outreach Program includes a primary health care clinic in Campbellsburg, immunization clinics on a regular basis, medical transportation to primary health care service in Washington County, and health education on such topics as women's health issues, men's health issues, first aid/CPR, health screening and child clinic screening.
"We are very pleased with IU's involvement in this evaluation process," said Steve Adams, director of strategic development and consulting services for Hoosier Uplands. "The university has the talent and experience that is needed for the evaluation process, and their participants are really getting involved by attending the many community meetings that are part of this process," Adams said.