Memorial Hospital of Chester and members of the Health Communities Alliance (formerly the Southern Illinois Substance Abuse Alliance or SISAA) are coordinating efforts to share resource information with first responders and municipalities throughout Randolph County.
In 2022, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), Population Health Flex Grant funding was received by Memorial to print 2,000 copies of the Randolph County Resource Guide. The Guide contains contact information and details for organizations who provide health, wellness, and support services to Randolph County residents. This 60-page document was circulated, in printed and digital form, to businesses and individuals throughout the county to help connect people to the services they need. This guide was found to be a great source of information for professionals helping to serve community members.
Follow-up conversation with police officers showed that, though it was a wealth of resource information, it was a lot to hand off to someone in need. The Alliance used the information they had received to aid Memorial Hospital in applying for the 2023 ICAHN Population Health Flex Grant to create 150 resource kits for first responders. The new kits pinpointed four categories of need for the community: Homelessness, Domestic Violence, Recovery and Mental Health.
Each kit contains individual cards with specific contact information for organizations in the respective categories. This makes a quick and easy handout for first responders as they are interacting with individuals in need. “Sometimes the department responding to a call is not the one that can provided extended care to truly solve the individual’s problem,” explained, Mariah Bargman, Memorial Hospital Community Relations Coordinator, past HCA Chairman, and grant writer. “With these resource cards, responders now have the ability to better connect those in need directly with the services that can assist in their continuum of care.” The kits also contained printed Resource Guides for the departments, cards with a QR code and link to locate the digital version of the Guide online, and a Spanish brochure with the combined information from the cards.
“By providing educational materials and better connecting individuals in need to resources, we hope to see an improvement in reduced repeat calls and better results of each incident,” said Rhonda Wilson, National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) representative and HCA Chairman. “By giving first responders resourceful tools that can be provided during face-to-face interaction we are better connecting people during their time of need with services that may benefit them.” Providing resources during that crucial moment can be the difference of someone reaching out and asking for help.
Members of the HCA have been actively handing out kits the past few weeks to city, county, and state Police departments, fire departments, and city halls. The response has been positive, as kits have been received.