News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 9, 2013

Chamber of Commerce: The final strategic initiative: Health and Wellness

Ken Brengle
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Thank you to all who participated in the Long Range Planning Community Forum. The information gathered at that event is now being drafted into a final report. Once the report has been reviewed and approved by the Terre Haute Tomorrow Steering Committee, the real work starts. Action teams to address the major issues will be developed.

All segments of the Terre Haute/Vigo County community will be asked to participate and to volunteer on these action teams. When the topics are announced, feel free to contact us regarding volunteer opportunities at memberinfo@ or by calling (812) 232-2391.

I wanted to address the final strategic initiative: Health and Wellness. The Chamber needs to continue to be active with Better Health Wabash Valley. We support the community health assessment and the collaboration with surrounding counties on issues of health. We believe it is essential to focus on issues of obesity, tobacco usage and creating a clearinghouse for best practices.

One of the hot topics at the forefront of the business leader’s mind is health insurance issues and what the Affordable Healthcare Act means to the average business.

As we continue toward the full implementation of the AHA, scheduled for Jan. 1, 2014, we will strive to provide the most current and pertinent information to our members.

However, for Terre Haute, Vigo County and the Wabash Valley, there are more systemic health issues that need to be addressed as well. The need to create a healthier workforce is paramount. We, unfortunately, are an unhealthy county in an unhealthy state. The number of local citizens who are obese, smoke and face cardiovascular disease are above the average compared to other counties and regions in the state.

The aforementioned issues led to the creation of Better Health Wabash Valley, a Chamber initiative that has been charged with first, identifying the Wabash Valley’s most pressing community health needs; and second, leading a process to identify and develop programing to improve the overall health of the community.

On Feb. 7, 2012, the Community Health Needs Assessment was officially launched and made available for public use. The community health needs assessment represents a unique collaboration between the two largest healthcare providers in the Wabash Valley, Union Hospital and Terre Haute Regional Hospital, along with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and its Better Health initiative. Union Hospital and Terre Haute Regional Hospital, both presenting sponsors, provided funding for this six month project. The six Indiana counties assessed include; Clay, Greene, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo.

The CHNA website, created by Healthy Community Institute, uses data from secondary sources and is continuously updated to create one report providing nearly 100 indicators measuring health and wellness, economic factors, education, public safety and social environment. This tool can be used by many different segments of the community.

Since the start of the program United Way of the Wabash Valley, Sullivan County Community Hospital and Hamilton Center have signed on as supporting sponsors.

Better Health Wabash Valley is now developing an implementation plan outlining how to address the issues of obesity, smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease throughout the six-county region. Once the implementation plan is completed, it will provide the basis to apply for grants with WellPoint Foundation to help fund the programs necessary to address these issues.

Additionally, the Chamber will develop a “best practices” section on its website so the business community can see how their neighbors are addressing these issues.

The Better Health Wabash Valley programs, just as our workforce development activities, are programs that are not just one-year efforts. The creation of these programs marks the beginning of what will be long-term, sustainable actions.

If you would like more information concerning our activities please feel free to contact me at the Chamber at (812) 232-2391 or email us at memberinfo@