Infant mortality task force sets meeting for March 28

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The West-Central Indiana Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force will conduct its first meeting Friday to begin developing ways to improve outcomes for babies in eight Wabash Valley counties.

Indiana has the sixth-highest infant mortality rate in the country at 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births and the rate in most west-central Indiana counties exceeds the state average.

The task force covers Putnam, Clay, Greene, Owen, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties but members say their wok will have statewide impact.

The National Leadership Academy for the Public Health selected the task force as one of 29 teams from around the country to participate in the third year of its program, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the first Indiana team selected for the program.

The National Leadership Academy for the Public's Health works with and trains multi-sector teams through an applied, collaborative leadership development model. The academy is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program is implemented by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice, part of the Public Health Institute, and will provide training and support for one year, focusing on two tracks: Development of leadership skills and team-based collaborative work aimed at effecting changes in policies and systems.

The inaugural meeting of the task force is set for 3 p.m. Friday, March 28 at the Landsbaum Center for Health Education, adjacent to Union Hospital in Terre Haute.

Panel members are Stephanie Laws, executive director of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative; Jack Turman, dean of Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health and Human Services; Jeena Siela, deputy director of the Indiana State Department of Health's Maternal and Child Health Division; and Elizabeth Burrows, chief executive officer of Valley Professionals Community Health Center, formerly Vermillion-Parke Community Health Center.

Indiana Health Commissioner William Van Ness II has confirmed his participation in the meeting and Gov. Mike Pence has been invited. Health care professionals and others interested in addressing infant mortality in the region are also encouraged to attend.

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