I was recently prompted to think of the many ways we reach out to individuals throughout central Illinois and beyond, with healthcare services both direct and indirect. Some of that outreach is financially quite substantial; some may seem small, but is quite significant to those it impacts.

Each year, we subsidize close to $4 million in health services for disadvantaged patients in rehabilitation, behavioral health, pediatrics and emergency services. A less financially substantial example is the donation of office space to Central Illinois Friends of People with AIDS—space the organization might not otherwise be able to maintain. Big or small, we touch lives in many different ways, impacting an estimated one million people across the 18 counties in our region.

It would be nearly impossible to share with you every program that supports the communities we serve, but I can share some of the important ways we help keep central Illinois vital, happy and healthy. From discussions centered around the most difficult medical issues facing families today, to fanciful stars that light up the night sky—we love being an integral part of the region.

It is hard to imagine anyone within a 60- to 70-mile radius not being familiar with the UnityPoint Health – Methodist | Proctor Wellmobile, which has served the Peoria area for 14 years. In 2016, the Wellmobile served 4,800 people as it crisscrossed the region during 33 monthly screening stops. These free, critical screenings include blood glucose, cholesterol, lung spirometry and blood pressure tests; other tests include PSAs, ankle brachial index tests and EKGs. From schools, churches and fitness centers to food pantries and farmer’s markets, the Wellmobile helps bring vital health services to those who might not otherwise think to go to a doctor or clinic—or even consider getting their cholesterol checked.

Encore is another important way we touch lives. Managed by the Hult Center for Healthy Living, Encore sponsored 198 programs in 2016 at no charge, touching the lives of 3,800 seniors. The monthly topics were quite diverse, ranging from Medicare and safe driving to cardiovascular disease, fraud prevention and the use of iPhones and iPads for beginners.

In support of our vision, “Best Outcome for Every Patient Every Time,” UnityPoint Health – Peoria is committed to an outstanding residency experience for family medicine and psychiatry residents. These programs educate physicians that are critically needed in our community. In addition, we provide internships in fields as diverse as student nursing and pharmacy.

Our investment in health science education is well-known. Methodist College provides a superior education in nursing, health sciences and human services through high-quality programming and excellent clinical practice. Its history dates back to 1900, when the deaconesses of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened the Deaconess Home and Hospital and its School of Nursing. In 2000, the school officially expanded its scope and became Methodist College. In 2016, it moved to an impressive, new campus that includes interactive learning spaces, a state-of-the-art simulation center and on-site student housing.

The Hult Center for Healthy Living promotes educational resources and excellence in every activity by partnering with schools, colleges/universities, medical professionals and community organizations. The Center empowers people through encouragement, knowledge and quality-of-life opportunities for their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Hult staff members recognize the many dimensions of health that contribute to optimum wellness, providing a respectful environment for students, patients, survivors, caregivers and families.

If you haven’t visited Hult, it would be well worth your time, as the interactive exhibits and faculty are tremendous. Schoolchildren visit the center on a regular basis, and the staff makes school visits as well—almost 61,000 classes in-house and through outreach in 2016. The Hult Center also manages three in-school centers in Peoria and provides visits to 53 additional schools across the area.

Critical to the emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families, our Pastoral Care Department provides educational experiences for those in the pastoral community. Through chaplain assistant volunteer training, individuals from area congregations help promote health in our communities and congregations, and invite church members to work with UnityPoint Health – Peoria to visit and support patients, their families and our staff. More than 90 area churches have participated in this program.

Finally, we can’t forget Red, White, and Boom! If you live in downstate Illinois, you have likely enjoyed this grand Fourth of July celebration. There’s nothing like a party for a half-million people! What a great way to celebrate central Illinois families: making memories together.

In all the ways we reach individuals throughout our region, we hope to not only provide the best outcomes when direct patient care is necessary, but inspire people of all ages to be the very best they can be. As we provide vibrant support for the health and well-being of each person in our community, our goal is for everyone to achieve their full potential in life. iBi