Inside INdiana Business

OCRA, IU partner to fight COVID in two counties

(Provided Photo/Indiana University)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs is partnering with Indiana University to help manage COVID-19 in Decatur and Daviess counties. The office says the partnership will leverage community networks to set goals designed to meet a range of health objectives.

OCRA is working with the IU Center for Rural Engagement and the IU School of Public Health in Bloomington on the effort. 

“Every rural community is different, and each brings its own strengths and challenges,” said Dr. Priscilla Barnes, associate professor in the IU School of Public Health and lead researcher on the project. “Rural health partnerships and coalitions have been quick to adapt to the daily changing landscape of public health. Response to unexpected crises is the invisible thread that connects with the existing health priorities, and these plans and their implementation will address both emergent needs and long-term priorities.”

OCRA says the partners will use local health assessment data to set SMART goals – strategic, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – including addressing gaps in services and preventing and treating chronic conditions. 

Residents in Daviess County have developed a community health improvement plan, or CHIP, in partnership with IU, which OCRA is joining to help deploy a response to immediate and emerging needs related to COVID-19. OCRA says the collaboration with IU will create a CHIP in Decatur County to address COVID-19 needs and plan for long-term health initiatives.

“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.”

OCRA says the local networks involved in the CHIP development and implementation include organizations from the health, education, business, and nonprofit sectors.