A Publication of WTVP

Whether you’re an employer struggling to hold the line on healthcare costs or an individual looking at rising premiums and higher deductibles, fundamental to holding down those costs is a healthier population. Unfortunately, Peoria ranks in the bottom half of the state’s annual report on the healthiest counties. And long term, that’s bad news not just for individuals, but for the continued economic health of our community.

I believe it doesn’t have to be that way. Central Illinois is blessed with the tools and resources, including a vibrant medical community, to make our region the healthiest in Illinois. At Methodist, we are committed to helping central Illinois win at wellness through programs to support healthier living, and by collaborating with other healthcare providers, organizations, and business and government leaders, in achieving community wellness goals.

For example, as a founding member of Peoria NEXT, Methodist plays an active role in developing the future of healthcare in our community by collaborating with other key players to generate funding to sponsor research in the areas of cancer biology, health informatics, medical education and medical device development. Methodist is also active with Quality Quest for Health of Illinois, where businesses, healthcare providers and payers are working together to make this the region with the healthiest people and the highest-value healthcare.

Here at Methodist, an emphasis on prevention and wellness led us to develop the Wellmobile, which brings free or low-cost health screenings to locations throughout central Illinois. Local businesses are teaming up with the Wellmobile to help their employees “know their numbers” for things like cholesterol and blood pressure— an important first step in developing a healthier workforce. And the Methodist MammoVan improves access to cancer-fighting early detection by providing screening mammograms at businesses, churches and other organizations.

The Methodist Encore! program encourages adults ages 55 and up to get more out of life, partnering with the Peoria Park District to offer a wealth of activities, such as the fast-growing sport of pickleball. In October, Encore! and Illinois Central College’s Prime Plus program will co-sponsor “Building an Aging-Friendly Community,” an initiative aimed at helping the region prepare for a fast-growing population of people over age 65.

Methodist is proud to support many similar events throughout the community, from the Susan G. Komen Memorial Affiliate’s Race for the Cure to the March of Dimes’ March for Babies. We are also proud of our employees, whose generous support consistently puts Methodist among the Top 10 campaigns for the Heart of Illinois United Way.

Meanwhile, an emphasis on health education and preventive care will prepare you to achieve your personal wellness goal—whether it’s running a marathon, managing your diabetes for a better quality of life, or just feeling good enough to take a walk with your grandkids. At free “Coffee with the Doctor” forums, community members can get answers to their questions on topics ranging from heart disease to osteoporosis from Methodist Medical Group providers.

Dr. Amy Christison, a pediatrician, heads up an outreach program with providers from Methodist, OSF St. Francis and Children’s Hospital, working together to help healthcare professionals identify, treat and prevent obesity in our children. She has also collaborated with Methodist In-School Health, Bradley University’s dietetics department, Peoria Park District and the University of Illinois Extension to spearhead a healthy lifestyles clinic at both Manual Academy and Harrison Community School.

Politicians will continue to debate the best route to healthcare reform. But as a community, and as individual leaders, we have an opportunity to put the Peoria area on the path to greater wellness. By working together, we can make our community the healthiest region in the state. iBi