(COLDWATER) – A St. Joseph County group has received a special award.
National Public Health Week is celebrated every April and this year, the Michigan Department of Community Health awarded St. Joseph County's Access to Care Task Force a Hometown Hero Award. The award is granted to individuals and to groups who have worked above and beyond to improve the public's health.
The Access To Care Task Force is a subcommittee of the St. Joseph County Human Services Commission. It's membership includes Sturgis Hospital; Three Rivers Health; Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of St. Joseph County; the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency; St. Joseph County Great Start Collaborative; the Riverside Free Clinic; Michigan State Extension Services as well as representatives from other health and human service agencies.
The Access To Care Task Force has a long history of success that have led to access to healthcare improvements in St. Joseph County. In 2010, the group served as the basis for a partnership between Three Rivers Health, the Three Rivers Schools and the health department that resulted in the funding of the Adolescent Health Center. Then in 2012 the Task Force was instrumental in the completion of a planning grant for a community health center.
In March, the Access To Care Task Force released it's community health needs assessment report. In addition to assuring the financial viability of the county's two local hospitals and the accreditation of its local health department, the assessment provides concrete information for community members and policy makers about the community's most pressing health needs and how those needs can be addressed locally.