Ottawa High School students and staff participate in the Stop the Bleed event.

Class is in session: Improving health through education

Redesigning the rural health care model has OSF HealthCare going back to school in LaSalle County, Illinois.

As OSF HealthCare works to improve access to services for rural communities and focuses on preventative health, it has turned to the community itself for help, building partnerships with local schools. Education, after all, is vital to the health of a community.

“We’re looking to improve the health status of the whole community and realizing it’s very difficult for us to do this alone,” said Don Damron, vice president of ambulatory services for OSF HealthCare Center for Health – Streator. “Forming partnerships is a more effective way to go about it.”

Collaboration with the schools not only provides an opportunity to connect with students, it also allows opportunities to connect with families. Efforts also reach faculty and staff and members of the community that interact with the school or attend events.

Planting the seeds of a lasting impact

Streator High School football player and coach Partnerships with local schools take a few different approaches to serve the community’s younger generation with the goal of creating a healthier today and tomorrow. OSF HealthCare is providing education that aligns with the recognized needs of the community, like healthy behaviors and behavioral health.

An OSF HealthCare advanced practice provider has begun providing a presentation at area schools to teach students about the risks of vaping – a growing trend among young people.

Orthopedic specialists from OSF Medical Group practices in Mendota, Ottawa and Streator are partnering to provide schools with athletic training services and sports physical clinics for their student-athletes. They’re also offering things like concussion care and weekend injury clinics.

OSF HealthCare physicians and staff also travel to schools to train staff and faculty on things like performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, how to use an automated external defibrillator and how to engage emergency responders during medical emergencies at schools. These initiatives, along with efforts to assist with the review of response procedures, optimizes the school readiness for medical events.

Preparing for the unexpected

OSF and Ottawa High School medical bagThe OSF HealthCare disaster preparedness team is also providing Stop the Bleed training to staff at Ottawa Township High School in February. The grant-funded program trains people on techniques for bleeding control that can save lives, like packing wounds and applying tourniquets. It also provides bleeding control equipment to organizations like local first responders.

“If anybody makes a request for training, we teach anyone, anywhere,” said Troy Erbentraut, disaster preparedness manager for OSF HealthCare. “If we can train people on how to stop bleeding, it helps us as a health care provider and gives us more opportunity to treat patients who are injured in a disaster.”

As OSF HealthCare continues to identify health needs in the community, new partnerships and programs will serve those needs.

Contact your local OSF HealthCare facility or your local school to learn more about educational opportunities.

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

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