INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University Health has announced a major investment effort aimed at tackling critical health issues affecting Hoosiers. The health system is investing $100 million into the newly-established Community Impact Investment Fund, which will award annual grants to address social issues affecting health outcomes throughout the state. IU Health Chief Executive Officer Dennis Murphy says the goal is to improve some of the major healthcare drivers that aren’t about seeing a doctor or going to a hospital.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Murphy said the effort is about creating an impact on social determinants of health.

"About 70% of your health status is not determined by the healthcare you receive or your genetics; it’s actually determined by where do you live, what’s your income status, what kind of educational attainment have you had," said Murphy. "So that’s really what we’re trying to do is deal with that 70% of factors that drive your health status that aren’t about delivering care."

The fund will be administered by the Indiana University Health Foundation. The health system says the fund will be used to develop strategies in four broad areas: healthy living, educational attainment, workforce development, and place-based solutions to improve neighborhoods and alleviate poverty.

IU Health has announced the first round of projects throughout the state to receive grants through the fund:

Reduce Infant Mortality: IU Health is committing $1 million over three years to help reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in Indiana. Efforts will focus on healthy family education and providing access to providers and contraception at no/low cost to underserved women. The program will be piloted in underserved clinics in Marion County, expanding to rural clinics throughout the state. The projects hopes to serve more than 200 women a month in its first year with education on planning healthy families.

Opioid Crisis Diversion Center Development: IU Health and the IU Health Foundation are investing a combined total of $1,050,000 over three years to support the efforts of Stride (The Monroe County Substance Use Disorder Coalition), a cross-section of community stakeholders including government, corporate and non-profit institutions. Stride is launching a 24-hour crisis center in Monroe County, operated by Centerstone, for those facing a substance use-related crisis. Instead of transporting individuals to jail or a hospital emergency room for acute mental illness or substance use, the program will divert them to a therapeutic alternative better able to help. Local partners who are matching the IU Health Community Impact Investment Fund grant include Cook Group, Bloomington Health Foundation, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, Monroe County Council and Commissioners, Family and Social Services Administration, and the City of Bloomington.

Reduce Social Isolation Through Spiritual Care: IU Health is investing $1.37 million over three years to help faith congregations work with hospitals to care for those who are socially isolated and suffer health issues complicated by depression, anxiety, or loss. Partners from faith communities throughout Marion County and other select communities will care for those most in need of community and health services, with a goal of improving health habits and reducing emergency room misuse and hospital readmissions.

Muncie Neighborhood Impact Project: Over three years, $1 million will be given for revitalization in the Thomas Park-Avondale and South Central neighborhoods in southeast Muncie. The area has struggled with food insecurity, poverty, substance use disorders, vacant/unsafe housing, lack of healthcare access and low educational levels. IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and the 8twelve Coalition will use the funding to bring new trails, bike lanes and an expanded sports center, along with greater food accessibility and more attractive housing options.

Murphy says all four projects center around building partnerships with people within the local communities. He says the short-term goal is to see how an effort like this plays out.

"We’re trying to figure out which of these programs work well. What structure do we have that we can make the biggest impact? As we learn from that, we will do more of that. I think the long-term goal for us is how do we build as many of these partnerships as possible and ideally get other people to engage in that with us because we clearly won’t be able to fix these big issues on our own."

Murphy will appear this weekend on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick to talk more about the investment.

Murphy says the effort is about creating an impact on social determinants of health.

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