Indianapolis — The Governor’s Public Health Commission laid the foundation for the work ahead to improve the delivery of public health services in Indiana during its inaugural meeting Thursday.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, provided an overview of Indiana’s current health rankings and public health infrastructure, which includes 94 local health departments and the Indiana Department of Health. Paul Halverson, founding dean of the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health, shared findings from a study that examined the state’s public health system, focusing on the impact of funding challenges and the need for sufficient expertise and technology across the state.
“We’ve had so many success stories in the last 20 years with respect to our tax system, our economic development and our universities,” said former state Sen. Luke Kenley, co-chair of the commission. “Yet in terms of our own lifestyle, the one area that we’re probably lagging behind is in the health of our citizens and the healthcare of our citizens. This is the time, and this is the place, where we need to take a serious look at our public health program in the state of Indiana.”
CDC Foundation President and CEO Judy Monroe, M.D., FAAFP, who is co-chairing the commission, noted that she observed many of Indiana’s public health challenges while serving as the state’s health commissioner from 2005 to 2010.
“I saw the unevenness of public health services across the state at that time. That’s been a longstanding issue,” she said. “There is nationally no greater question right now than how do we improve public health. My hope is that this commission has real impact on the health of Hoosiers.”
The commission, which includes representatives from public health, local government, the Indiana Minority Health Coalition and healthcare associations, is charged with analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the current public health system, assessing the performance of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and identifying ways to improve funding and the equitable delivery of public health services in the future, with a focus on legislation.
A video of Thursday’s meeting and copies of the presentations are posted at www.in.gov/gphc. The commission’s next meeting will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Indiana Government Center South, 302 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN. Proceedings will be livestreamed and available online at https://www.youtube.com/c/IndianaDepartmentofHealth.