Thursday, April 6, 2006
New Alliance Foundation strives to improve health
By SUE WATSON
A new, public, non-profit charitable foundation in Holly Springs was unveiled last week at the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery with 51 invited guests turning out to hear Linda Turner speak to the need to put public health first in Marshall County.
A broad spectrum of invited guests attended a presentation by Turner and reception that followed, including some of the members of Alliance Charitable Foundation’s board of directors, church pastors, teachers, pharmacists, insurance agents, bankers, business leaders, officials with the Mississippi Department of Health and representatives from the offices of Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Roger Wicker.
Turner made two presentations, the first a “State of Public Health in Marshall County.”
“I made this presentation to help you understand why we need a public health foundation,” she said.
“I’d like to warn you, you may be alarmed at this presentation.”
She presented census data that profiles the economic status of the county’s over 35,000 population which is almost evenly balanced racially:
Marshall County ranked 82nd in the state for 20 public health indicators.
“We are the worst county for public health in Mississippi and in America,” said Turner. “It’s startling.”
In the state’s 10 worst indicators for public health in 2003 figures provided through the health department, Marshall County does not compare well with other counties in the state, according to Tutor.
The data show:
In the second presentation, Turner gave explained what the foundation hopes to do to improve health and well-being for citizens of the county.
“We want better health for everyone, not just poor people and children,” she said. “When men and women start to work and care for themselves financially, they stop the mind and body development instilled by their parents. We train our children to be academically successful, to participate in ballet, to play the piano, violin, or another musical instruments, to swim, to play softball and soccer. As parents, we make every sacrifice to help our children become well rounded, while stopping the process for ourselves eventually leading to a decline in our health and wellness.”
Alliance Charitable Foundation wants to do something about the public health statistics in Marshall County through education and by implementing programs and activities that will encourage individuals to participate in life-saving health screening, treatment and disease management. To reduce disparities in obtaining health care, the foundation will assure that barriers to screening and treatment are eliminated for low-income families. A wide variety of age appropriate, health and fitness activities are planned for the public.
“We want to be a helper, a friend and we want to be a family,” she said.
District 2 Health Department officials said they can help the foundation, particularly in the area of education.
“My role will be to educate,” said Cissy Cox.
“We could be involved in about any area in this (charity),” said Kay Henry, nurse supervisor, District 2.
“I think this would be a good place to come and be involved,” said Daniel Bender director of health services statewide. Bender is responsible for preventive health, adolescent and child health, Women, Infants and Children and Women’s health.
“There are lots of things we can partner on,” he said. “This is the first county I think to take the initiative to pull these numbers together, the first county to focus just on the health care numbers.”
The newly established Alliance Charitable Foundation, a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 organization, can receive charitable donations now, Turner said. She is volunteer director for the foundation and employed by Alliance Healthcare System.
More than a year ago, Alliance HealthCare System asked Turner to help establish a foundation for the hospital. After research and months of discussion, the administration and management of Alliance decided to support creation of the foundation not as the hospital’s foundation but as a public charity for the entire county.
“Every household in the Marshall County community can expect to hear from the foundation with request for support and program participation,” said Turner.
To contact the foundation call 252-5052, extension 1005 or visit the office at 617 Highway 7 South in Holly Springs.
Report News: (662) 252-4261
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