St. Clair County doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the health of its residents.
The county ranked 93rd out of 102 Illinois counties in overall health, according to the 2016 national County Health Rankings released last year.
County health officials believe it will take a community working together to improve the county’s overall health, which is why community members are invited to attend the eighth annual St. Clair County Health Policy Summit. The summit, hosted by the St. Clair County Healthcare Commission, will be held March 2 at the Four Points Sheraton in Fairview Heights.
The summit will focus on five health priorities identified by the healthcare commission: violence prevention, mental health, quality of life, maternal and child health/sexual health and chronic disease prevention.
“These health issues are among the biggest contributors to St. Clair County’s low scores in the National County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Population Health Institute,” said Mark Peters, director of community health for the St. Clair County Health Department.
To kick-start the conversation at the summit, Tyler Norris will be the keynote speaker. Norris has helped shape health initiatives in communities throughout the world. He is chief executive of the Institute for Mental Health and Wellness, a new foundation created by Providence St. Joseph Health in Irvine, Calif., and previously served as vice president of Total Health at Kaiser Permanente in Washington, DC.
Other scheduled speakers include:
▪ Jared Beard, executive vice president, Gateway Region YMCA
▪ Brendan Kelly, state’s attorney, St. Clair County
▪ Dr. Desarie Holmes, director, Behavioral Health Center, Touchette Regional Hospital
▪ Dr. Andrew Bland, HSHS vice president and chief quality officer
▪ Dr. Pamela K. Xaverius, professor of epidemiology, Saint Louis University
▪ Steven H. Lipstein, chief executive officer, BJC HealthCare
Peters anticipates a large attendance at this year’s summit as Norris is a nationally-recognized figure. Peters encourages employers, school officials, community and faith leaders and residents to attend the summit.
“There’s going to be something for everybody,” he said.
We all have a stake in this. It’s in our best interest to have a healthy as possible community.
Rita Boyd, past president of the St. Clair County Get Up and Go initiative
Rita Boyd, past president of the St. Clair County Get Up and Go initiative, explained the emphasis of the summit is health, but more specifically health policy.
“It’s that underlying policy that sets the tone for how a school operates, for the decisions communities make,” she said. “For a 1,000 little choices that set the stage for a healthier place for people to be.”
The objectives of the summit include:
▪ Identifying how the top health priorities impact community members.
▪ Working with all sectors of the community to improve top health priorities through collaboration.
▪ Showing how each organization and individual can make an impact on the top health priorities.
▪ Learning about best practices to address the health priorities.
“We all have a stake in this,” Boyd said. “It’s in our best interest to have a healthy as possible community. ... The solutions are going to have to come locally. Health belongs to everybody.”
At a glance
- What: Eighth annual St. Clair County Health Policy Summit
- When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 2
- Where: Four Points Sheraton, 319 Fountains Parkway in Fairview Heights
- Cost*: $40 for professionals and $25 for students
- To register: www.healthpolicysummit.org
- More information: email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Continental breakfast and lunch provided.