As we prepared to announce IU Health Foundation’s $200 million “All The Difference” fundraising campaign, we spotted a national news story that underscored the importance of the work the campaign will fund.
In recent years, the generally poor health of Indiana residents has been documented in a number of ways. We’ve seen data suggesting that Hoosiers die of cancer at a rate higher than most states. We have one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates. We are among the worst states in the nation for mental illness and mental health services. And so on.
But the most compelling recent indicator might be that Oct. 3 Washington Post article headlined “An epidemic of chronic illness is killing us too soon.” To illustrate their points, the reporters concentrated on towns in southern Indiana and Louisville, KY, across the Ohio River from those towns.
It’s time to put coverage like that into Indiana’s past. And we believe philanthropy can make that possible.
By publicly announcing “All the Difference: The Campaign for Indiana University Health,” we recommit ourselves to IU Health’s goal of making Indiana one of the healthiest states in the nation. The campaign is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the trajectory of health in the Hoosier state. And we dedicate ourselves to focusing the power of the campaign’s donors not on bricks and mortar but on programs and services that improve the health of people all across Indiana.
The Post article served to affirm that focus by echoing our emphasis on the non-health-related factors that contribute to poor health – the social determinants of health – and the equity issues that so often exacerbate them.
As the article notes, “Poor life expectancy, in this view, is the predictable result of the society we have created and tolerated: one riddled with lethal elements, such as inadequate insurance, minimal preventive care, bad diets and a weak economic safety net.” Adds Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of medicine, public health and management at Yale University, “There is a great deal of harm in the way that we somehow stigmatize social determinants, like that’s code for poor, people of color or something.”
We believe that IU Health has a unique opportunity – in fact, a responsibility – to address these factors. With programs, services and healthcare professionals in locations across the state, we serve people from all of Indiana’s 92 counties. With nationally respected programs in transplant medicine, cardiovascular care, cancer treatment and more, we connect Hoosiers with resources here in Indiana that people in other states must travel to find.
With the understanding that healthcare delivery is being re-imagined in the United States – and, in fact, in the world – we intend to be a leader, blazing new trails to ensure that Indiana residents have the chance to benefit as soon as possible, not after new ideas have become commonplace.
Together, this vibrant healthcare infrastructure and ambitious vision for the future put IU Health in a position to ensure that generations of Hoosiers receive not just the best care and treatment available but also the resources they need to enjoy healthier lives.
But this vision won’t be possible without philanthropy. Many programs and services addressing social determinants of health – such as education, job training, social work and preventive care – are not covered by current payment systems. Plus, the state’s government support of healthcare falls well short of need, as Indiana ranks 45th in the nation for public health funding and most local public health funding comes from local governments, which puts Indiana’s smaller communities – where the need is sometimes greatest – at a disadvantage.
That’s why we’ve launched “All the Difference”: to put philanthropy to work confronting one of Indiana’s greatest challenges. We believe IU Health, powered by generous donors like you, can indeed change the trajectory of health in Indiana. We believe that, together, we can face this unprecedented challenge and this unparalleled opportunity.
And we believe that, by joining forces, we can change the stories that are told about Indiana, and connect this state to headlines focused on new hope and healthier people.
Join us. iuhealth.org/all-the-difference