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Posted by: Steve Kimmel

A far-sighted decision by the Huntington County Medical Society to invest in improving the health and well-being of area residents has led to the creation of Huntington County Healing Partners, a unique health-priority funding alliance uniting Parkview Huntington Hospital (PHH) and local doctors in a shared vision.

Healing Partners aims to tackle pressing local health issues to move the needle farther toward better health and greater vitality for citizens and community alike.

With a gift of more than $1.28 million, the Medical Society has established a permanent endowment at Parkview Huntington Foundation that will be the key revenue source for the new Huntington County Healing Partners program. The program, a joint effort of PHH and the medical society, will provide annual grant funding for activities in the county targeting public health priorities identified in the Huntington County Health Needs Assessment.

“The health and wellness of a community is a product of an ecosystem that needs to function well,” said Matt Pflieger, DO, Medical Society vice president and Huntington County health officer. “We need an environment that promotes health and helps people live their best lives. By moving the funds into this endowment at the foundation, we can focus our grants on the Community Needs Assessment that Parkview completes. This will allow us to best direct money to activities that will have the biggest impact on the health and wellness of Huntington County. The needs of a community shift with time and we want to ensure we are staying in line with those needs.”

How Healing Partners will work

Parkview Huntington Hospital will provide contributions toward grants each year from funds set aside for its Community Health Improvement (CHI) work. A committee of representatives from the medical society, the hospital and the foundation will review grant applications and administer the Healing Partners program.

Grants will be awarded annually to organizations operating in the county that have existing or potentially innovative programs addressing social determinants of health – factors that, if not addressed, can lead to more people requiring medical treatment. The Huntington County Health Needs Assessment, conducted by Parkview Health every three years, identifies troublesome trends in social determinants among Huntington County residents. The most recent assessment, completed in 2019, cited the county’s major health concerns as chronic disease treatment and management, access to healthy foods, obesity, mental health and substance use and abuse.

“So many factors contribute to health and well-being,” said Doug Selig, president, PHH, “from access to health care and nutritious food to affordable housing, reliable transportation, supportive social services and more. Recognizing that major change requires substantial resources, the Healing Partners alliance aims to cast a wider net, inviting more solutions from groups that are new or have not been able to participate in past grant funding through the Community Health Improvement program. We want to give good ideas the momentum they need to begin making a difference for even more people.”

Grant applications are now being accepted

Initial grants for year-end 2021 will launch the program. Local 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations with programs addressing obesity/healthy eating or mental health/substance abuse are invited to apply for funding now by emailing a statement of interest to HealingPartners@parkview.com. An application form will be emailed to them along with instructions for completion. Applicants may also send questions about the program to the email address. Applications are due by Oct. 27.

A past health initiative gives rise to a new one

The seed of the Medical Society’s gift was planted more than a half-century ago with some unspent funds from a county-wide polio vaccination program. That money became the principal for the Huntington County Medical Memorial Foundation, which was established with the broad mission to benefit medical services in Huntington County.

Over the years, that foundation’s principal grew, and in the 1990s, the foundation’s assets came under the stewardship of the Huntington County Medical Society, which has continued to make periodic grants.

“This new gift shows how deeply our local physicians care about the health of area residents,” said Nicole Johnson, chair, Parkview Huntington Foundation board of directors. “They had options as to how to spend this money, but chose to give it back to the community by helping organizations that seek to improve the health of Huntington County citizens for years to come. We’re excited that this Healing Partners program will expand the foundation’s focus from its traditional role – helping to make the hospital better – to the community and new ways to encourage health on a broader scale.”

“This is a genuinely transformational gift,” Parkview Huntington Foundation Director Mike Perkins said of the endowment. “The Huntington County Healing Partners alliance is an unprecedented effort to bring local resources to bear on pressing health concerns for people in our community.”

For more information on Huntington County Healing Partners, contact Perkins at mike.perkins@parkview.com or (260) 224-1417.