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Officials in Daviess County are ramping up their efforts to provide an updated Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The county put together such a plan last year, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed many of the dynamics and the plan needs to now take the virus’ impact into account. The work will involve local community organizations and health care providers who will be working with the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington in collaboration with the IU Center for Rural Engagement.

“With COVID hitting I think you have to look at your plan differently,” said Dr. Priscilla Barnes, associate professor in the IU School of Public Health and head researcher on the project. “This is going to give us an opportunity to review and reset that plan.”

The original CHIP was led by the Daviess Community Hospital, and while the hospital will be involved in developing the revamped plan, the Purdue University Extension Office will be acting as the facilitator this time around.

“We have the existing plan and have developed a network, “said Community Development Educator for Purdue Extension in Daviess County Cindy Barber. “Our entire office is engaged in the CHIP project. We see an opportunity for a lot of organizations to collaborate on this.”

Not only will the group be looking at the COVID impact on the CHIP but it will also consider how it may have changed some of the past needs identified in the community and help plan for future potential health issues.

“COVID really shined a light on the immediate and emerging needs in the community, things that we will need to pay attention to in the future, and this should open conversations on those issues,” said Dr. Barnes.

Local leaders say they are anxious to get together and begin working on the additional community health needs brought about by the COVID pandemic.

“We are excited about moving forward,” said Barber. “Daviess County has shown over and over that we can come together and respond to problems. I believe that with the collaboration of all the health and community partners we can come up with an updated plan we can all be proud of. This is absolutely a very good thing.”

The project is being funded by a grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. For IU it not only involved updating the Daviess County CHIP but building a new CHIP in Decatur County.

“This collaboration with OCRA and our community partners launches transformative possibilities for the health of our rural communities,” said Kerry Thomson, executive director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement. “By leveraging local and university resources, we can effectively address major health challenges like COVID-19 as well as increase access to care and mental health services that builds our resilience for the future.”

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