Pike County Health Department Administrator Anita Andress remembers exactly when work began on some initiatives coming together now for the health and well-being of county residents.
It was 2000.
With help from community members, the department began work on the state-mandated Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Need, or IPLAN, and when the plan was finished, the real work began.
“The community wanted to keep going, not put it on a shelf,” Andress said. “I’m really proud of our community for saying let’s do something, let’s make things happen.”
The Pike County Community Health Partnership, formed in 2006, grew out of that determination and started to lay the groundwork to address the county’s healthcare needs through work by volunteers and a steering committee with representatives from the health department, Mental Health Centers of Western Illinois, Illini Community Health Care Foundation now renamed Health and Wellness Foundation of Pike County, University of Illinois Extension and Illini Community Hospital.
A 2008 community health needs assessment highlighted the five most pressing needs — coordination of services, transportation, mental health/psychiatric services, dental care/oral health and food, housing and preventative health programs. Groups formed to target transportation and oral health, and years of work are bringing improved services to the county.
Pike County Public Transit, fully launched in January, provides door-to-door service for county residents.
The Pike County Transit Partnership Group worked with the Illinois Rural Transit Assistance Center to complete the Transportation Coordination Primer, a step-by-step process to develop a coordinated public transportation system. The partnership recommended as the provider Jacksonville-based West Central Mass Transit District, which already serves Brown, Scott and Morgan counties. Federal and state money, donations and fares cover operating costs of the service providing nonemergency medial transport, door-to-door donation-only senior transportation and public transit within Pike County and to Quincy, Jacksonville, Springfield and other destinations.
A $400,000 grant to the health department, combined with an earlier $100,000 grant, will bring a safety net dental clinic to serve low-income children to Pittsfield.
The clinic will open in summer 2012 in a new $2 million consolidated health complex being built by the Health and Wellness Foundation of Pike County. “This project has the greatest impact on the greatest number of residents of any small project we could do at this point,” HWFPC Executive Director Patricia McIntosh said.
“It’s so exciting this is finally happening. We are accomplishing things,” Andress said. “It takes time. The hardest thing about all this is being patient, but you have to be with these types of things, especially in small places where you don’t have a lot of resources.”