“It aligns perfectly with what we are trying to accomplish.”
That’s how Don Damron views the $98,000 of Rural Health Network Development Planning funds recently granted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to the rural health initiative in Streator and the surrounding area.
Damron, Vice President of Ambulatory Services for OSF HealthCare Center for Health – Streator, adds, “The grant funding will assist with the planning and development of the rural health initiatives that OSF HealthCare pledged upon opening our Streator facility.”
It began in January of 2016 with the OSF acquisition of the former hospital and announcing a new model of delivering care in the rural community that focuses on making the Center for Health more than a clinical facility by transforming it into a hub for health.
And it continues today as OSF HealthCare undergoes a major building renovation - the first phase of which is done and on schedule for a fall 2019 completion. “What OSF had said they were going to do is what they’re following through with,” said Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford.
The HRSA grant is just the latest investment in the rural health care initiative.
Last year, OSF HealthCare donated $1 million to the Streator Family YMCA for a building expansion (scheduled for completion this fall) to increase health and wellness programming. At the time, Streator YMCA Executive Director Josh Biros said, “The support and collaboration from OSF allows Streator to take a bigger step toward building and maintaining a healthy community.”
There are additional collaborations with the health department, North Central Behavioral Health Systems, American Cancer Society, as well as the city of Streator, its police and fire departments, area municipalities and school systems.
Add to all of this the establishment of a free-standing emergency care center that supports Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance traffic, tele-health solutions for behavioral health and a primary care transformation within OSF Medical Group, and you have some real momentum toward success.
Building upon that momentum is Live Well Streator, a community-based group that’s focused on improving health outcomes. Backed by the resources of OSF HealthCare, group members have teamed up to work with area businesses, social service organizations and government agencies.
“The OSF vision of partnering with existing community resources, along with their support and collaboration, is what truly made the planning grant possible,” says Damron.
In fact, supporting letters from many of those partners spoke to how the initiative “will allow patients, clinicians and caregivers to take a much more holistic approach to health care delivery in our rural community.”
While the community is embracing the concept, Damron emphasizes that their input is still very important. “We’re implementing some of the initiatives and delivering on our promises. It’s been well received,” he said, “but we continue to solicit and need feedback from the community as we move forward.”
Success achieved through the planning grant could provide future opportunities to pursue additional HRSA grant funding for implementation, believed to be as much as $3 million.
“HRSA is very interested in the work going on in Streator because we’re not the only community challenged with the closing of an acute care hospital,” says Damron. “We are grateful to have been selected for the funding, and we look forward to working with HRSA to share our story and lessons learned with other rural communities facing similar challenges.”
This publication is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $98,046. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.