Faith and Health in Decidedly Rural Areas

Thursday, October 19 11:15-12:30 p.m. and 1:45-3:00 p.m.

Moderated by Benjamin Anderson, this session explores faith and health in rural areas through the experiences and learnings of three distinct programs:

County-Wide Health Assessment – Judy Johnston and Benjamin Anderson

Southwest Kansas is composed primarily of frontier counties with small, rural populations including large numbers of immigrant families and families living below the Federal poverty level. The health and wellness of a population does not depend solely on access to and appropriate use of needed healthcare services, but rather requires a broad spectrum of resources throughout the community, including faith communities, which contribute to prevention of disease, improved quality of life, and healthy family functioning. A shared vision for community change is required, so residents must be actively engaged in health and wellness assessment and planning for their communities. By assessing needs across all sectors of the community, opportunities for mutually-reinforcing activities can be identified and communication among all partners is fostered. Judy and Benjamin will describe the community assessment and data sharing processes that have been used in three southwest Kansas counties, share some of the resulting data, and discuss some community changes which have resulted.

Early Detection Works – Irma Robbins

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-funded Early Detection Works (EDW) program pays for clinical breast exams, mammograms, Pap tests, and diagnostic services for uninsured women who meet specific age requirements. Research has documented that regular screening and prompt treatment can reduce deaths from breast and cervical cancer. Through collaboration with Susan G. Komen of Kansas, many women who are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer may also obtain automatic KanCare coverage for treatment. The EDW program in the Garden City regional office serves 37 Kansas counties, from the Oklahoma to Nebraska borders, through primary care providers, hospitals, and public health departments in 22 communities. Irma will discuss the challenges of educating the community about the importance of early detection, overcoming cultural barriers to screening, and coordinating community events with faith-based community partners and others.

Wilson Summer Food Program – Sheron Lowry

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA served more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites. Sheron will describe how her United Methodist congregation in a very small rural community in northwest Kansas utilized UMHMF grant and USDA funding and recruited additional community partners to provide meals and other activities for children in their community throughout the summer months.