Indiana’s State Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, visits Union Hospital and Lugar Center to Discuss Rural Health Initiatives
Dr. Kristina Box, State Health Commissioner for Indiana, visited Union Hospital on Tuesday, March 6th to discuss rural health concerns in the Wabash Valley area as well as the initiatives Union Health has taken to address those concerns.
Dr. Box observed multiple Union Hospital clinical settings during her visit. One of particular interest to Dr. Box, given her background as an obstetrician and gynecologist for 30 years, was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Dr. Box also visited the obstetrics unit and the delivery room before returning to the Lugar Center to discuss current and future health concerns in rural Indiana.
While at the Lugar Center a large portion of the conversation was spent reflecting on some of the Lugar Center’s initiatives in to decrease Indiana’s infant mortality rate (IMR) which is one of the highest in the nation. This includes projects like the NAP grant, administered in partnership with the Union Hospital Foundation that was used to purchase swaddle sleep sacks for newborns and subsidize breast pump costs for high risk families. The NAP grant also provided a safe sleep crib model and car seat simulator for new parents emphasizing the importance of the education issue with regard to IMR.
Along with the NAP grant, the Perinatal Navigator (PN) program was also recognized as a tremendous resource for high risk families. The PN program offers specialized health care professionals which follow families through pregnancy and the first year of life offering one-on-one support those who need it most. This is similar to the Baby & Me Tobacco Free program that offers support to expecting mothers and their partners as they try to quit smoking. Dr. Box appreciated the discussion on decreasing IMR.
Dr. Box, having grown up in Terre Haute, was impressed with the progress made in rural health care in her hometown. The need for rural physicians in Indiana was also discussed in depth. Dr. Randy Stevens (IUSM-TH) and Dr. Steven McDonald, UHFMR Director described the importance of rearing young physicians to be equipped to serve rural areas. Additionally, Dr. Angela Hatfield spoke to importance of motivating young students to pursue rural health care and to her own experience as a product of the Wabash Valley Physician Pipeline.
Opioid Abuse was another topic of importance during the visit with the Lugar Center. Dr. Box was happy to hear about the changes and advancement in medical facilities and even mentioned that the initiatives of the Lugar Center and Union Hospital are “ahead of the game” in providing much needed services in rural areas.
While the return to Terre Haute was business for Dr. Box, she was certainly excited to see all the positive changes occurring in a place she still calls home.