The Community non-profit organization “Moving Starke County Forward” (MSCF) will be given national exposure for its efforts to improve the health and welfare of Starke County residents. MSCF board members, Nancy Dembowski, Ted Hayes and Jordan Morris participated in an on-line interview with Megan Garske, Communications Associate for the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin Madison, regarding the goals of MSCF and some of the projects the championed in recent years.
Dembowski, the organization’s chairman, stated “We were ready to do something about the very poor health indicators in Starke County, but had no idea the projects would be so well received.” Starke County ranked last or near last on almost every criteria laid out by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings program in 2012, but has seen improvement in recent rankings released. MSCF shared how the rankings released in 2012 were a catalyst toward change and credits community collaboration for the improvement Starke County has seen. MSCF remains optimistic about the health of Starke County.
MSCF shared ways that they have used the ranking data and “drilled down” to look at local numbers from the Starke County Health Department related to the premature death rate and overdoses. Working together with Starke Hospital, Porter-Starke Services, and the Starke County Sheriff they offered Naloxone kits and training to all first responders. Garske commended MSCF stating that “a lot of communities use the data, but kind of use it as a starting point. I’ve never actually seen a community break it down to the point where you’ve calculated how many lives you would have saved or years gained, had that opioid addiction or drug abuse not happened.”
As a result of the interview, Garske has identified MSCF and Starke County as an organization and county making significant progress in improving health and plans to feature our story on the “Community Stories” section of the County Health Rankings by late April.