The late-summer surge of the delta variant poses probably the most instant risk to public well being in northeast Indiana. Nevertheless, we face different important threats as properly.
Well being outcomes in our state rank among the many lowest nationally on quite a lot of key measures together with toddler mortality, weight problems and opioid abuse.
Given these statistics, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s institution of an Indiana Public Well being Fee affirms our considerations as timelier than ever.
These numbers hassle us. Our college’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, first heard God’s name in a church devoted to St. Damian, a third century doctor who served the poor. In response, he lived amongst and cared for the poor and sick, particularly these affected by leprosy, one of many main public well being threats of his day.
Our college’s founders, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, first arrived in Lafayette in 1875.Inside days they established a hospital to look after the sick.
At present, the Franciscan Well being system, a community of 12 hospitals in Indiana and Illinois, continues this work of therapeutic underneath their management.
Because the main Catholic well being care educator within the area, the College of Saint Francis all the time seeks to innovate in assembly northern Indiana’s well being wants.
Examples of this spirit of innovation embody our merger with Lutheran Faculty of Well being Professions in 1998, the introduction of the physician of nursing apply program in 2016, our institution of a website in Crown Level in 2009 to coach future nurses, and its main enlargement in dimension and vary of program choices simply this fall.
Likewise, our growing of recent hybrid fashions of schooling supply to increase the attain of our mission whereas controlling prices for college students will allow us to proceed this lengthy custom of management in well being care schooling.
In that spirit of innovation, USF strikes ahead with dedication to carry its values and experience to bear on our area’s public well being issues.
Combining the therapeutic and academic work that outlined our founders’ ministries, we announce our new Heart for Built-in Public Well being Schooling and Analysis. Embedded in our Faculty of Well being Sciences, CIPHER will practice the following era of public well being professionals for northeast Indiana, in addition to present all our well being care college students with extra coaching within the fast-growing space of public well being.
Greater than an academic program, although, CIPHER can even function an educational analysis middle. Serving as a suppose tank for the general public well being neighborhood, it would present our area with complete and detailed analyses of urgent public well being threats to our communities, knowledgeable by state-of-the-art analysis within the subject from across the nation and world.
Furthermore, because of its location on our website in downtown Fort Wayne subsequent to the two,000-seat USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Heart, it would additionally present a typical floor the place all events – governmental leaders, nonprofit businesses, main well being care techniques, instructional companions and the broader public – can assemble to craft and implement methods to enhance the standard of life throughout northeast Indiana.
Whereas federal responses to the pandemic have offered Indiana with the assets wanted to construct a greater public well being infrastructure, this chance might be missed if a long-term technique for addressing these points just isn’t developed.
The newly introduced Public Well being Fee presents an exquisite begin on the state stage.
Nonetheless, our northeast Indiana wants require our specific consideration. We on the College of Saint Francis hope CIPHER generally is a key a part of our area’s technique.
The concerted efforts of each private and non-private leaders to construct a brighter future led to the renaissance in northeast Indiana we now get pleasure from. Because the COVID-19 pandemic exhibits, our future stays fragile.
Except we come collectively to handle persistent public well being challenges, we threaten to stall our personal development as a area. USF CIPHER might be a cornerstone of our joint efforts to construct a distinct – and more healthy – future for all of northeast Indiana.
The Rev. Eric Albert Zimmer is president of the College of Saint Francis.