Faith and Health in Decidedly Rural Areas

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

Presentation slides: County Wide Health Assessment [pdf]

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.

Improving the health status of people in America’s most underserved communities has been the mission and calling of Benjamin Anderson, who currently serves as CEO of Kearny County Hospital, a comprehensive rural health complex located in southwest Kansas.  During his career as a hospital CEO, Anderson has received national acclaim for his work in physician recruitment, health promotion, women’s health initiatives, rural healthcare delivery innovation, and research-based transitions from volume to value.  His work has been featured by National Public Radio, Sports Illustrated, ABC News, the Associated Press, and in nearly every major healthcare publication.  He regularly leads teams of people to serve at Eden Children’s Village, an orphanage and medical clinic in northern Zimbabwe.

Benjamin holds Bachelor of English and Master of Business Administration degrees from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.  In 2016, he completed a Master of Healthcare Delivery Science degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Judy A. Johnston, M.S., R.D./L.D., is a graduate of the Coordinated Undergraduate Program in Dietetics, Kansas State University. She also holds a master’s degree in Adult and Occupational Education from Kansas State University. As a Research Instructor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, Ms. Johnston continues to develop and pursue grants to support her research, and teaches in the Masters of Public Health Program. Her research interests are nutrition and physical activity with a focus on built environment, community leadership development, collaborative community approaches to health risk behaviors, faith-based health promotion, and clergy self-care, and oral health disparities. She has been the principal trainer and evaluator for the Healthy Congregations Program of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund since inception.

Learning objectives for the County-Wide Health Assessment segment:

  1. Name the eight community sectors included in the community assessment and discuss why multiple sector assessment is important.
  2. Discuss the roles of community champions and community volunteers and why community engagement in the data collection process is critical to success.
  3. Describe the process of sharing community data and putting it to use to begin community change.

Early Detection Works
Irma Robbins

Presentation slides: Early Detection Works [pdf]

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.

Irma Robbins was born and raised in Mexico City, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business in Mexico City. In 1998 she immigrated to the United States with her 9 year old daughter to seek better opportunities for both.  She has worked as Human Resources Assistant at St. Catherine Hospital before joining Genesis Family Health in Garden City where she has worked for the last 7 years as EDW Case Manager/Healthy Living Kansas and Promotoras de Salud Coordinator.

Learning objectives for the Early Detection Works segment:

  1. Describe the requirements for individuals to obtain screening services through EDW.
  2. Discuss the specific cultural challenges faced by EDW Regional Outreach staff in SW Kansas.
  3. Discuss possible community partners within the faith-based community to promote early cancer screening and innovative ways they can increase screening rates in their communities.

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.

Sheron Lowry is a child of God, wife, mother, grandmother, mother and great grandmother.  She did not repeat herself listing mother twice but has a story to tell about becoming a mother at the age of 52 years and what led her to feed children though the Summer Lunch Program. Sheron served 17 years as a personal banker in Wichita.  After the death of her first husband she started a small community library in Durham, Kansas.  Five years after establishing the library Sheron left it in good hands.  Her new husband was a United Methodist Minister and said yes to a transfer.  Ron, Sheron’s new husband, had a Bennett.  Not a dog but a 2 ½ year old little boy which he and his deceased wife had adopted at the age of four days.  Sheron, at the age of 52, began having lunch at McDonald’s and carrying a diaper bag.  Moving to another city, potty training, and learning to do income taxes on a volunteer basis all lead to being available when God calls your name.

Learning objectives for the Wilson Summer Food Program segment:

  1. Describe the requirements of meal providers and program meal recipients to participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program.
  2. Discuss possible community partners for providing summer meals to children.
  3. Describe innovative ways summer meal programs can connect with other community programs for children.