From WILL - News Headlines -

Vermilion County Health Department Schedules Meeting to Address Ranking in Study

A dismal ranking of overall health in Vermilion County for the second straight year has prompted a call to action from the county's health department.

Department administrator Shirley Hicks says about 130 people in affected areas have been invited to a meeting Thursday morning at her offices. She notes a lot of the findings in the county's ranking of 98th place out of the state's 102 counties have nothing to do with her department, like unemployment and education levels.

But Hicks says Illinois' fiscal woes will just force her department to work that much harder with social service agencies, primary care providers and others to seek solutions.

"The state of the Illinois economic crisis is a player as part of all of this," said Hicks. "So I think it's going to take all disciplines to look at what part can we do, and how can we best utilize resources that we do have."

Hicks commends the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute for putting the findings together. She says the ranking for the county isn't nearly as important as the process researchers used to arrive at that figure.

"Any time you're looking at those reports, you're looking at where did the data come from, how did they ask the questions, so you can better understand the root cause of the problem," said Hicks. "I don't have any dispute with the actual data, it's really trying to dissect it down the the most common denominator and say 'how can we target our initiatives and our resources and pull those together to make an impact."

Hicks commends the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute for putting the findings together. Thursday's meeting at the Vermilion County Health Department is expected to include primary care providers, social service agencies, law enforcement, hospitals, and members of the Vermilion County Board.