Rural Health Summit

In August of 2018, SIU Medicine Department of Population Science and Policy, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, UIC School of Public Health, SIU Medicine Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development and the Illinois Department of Public Health convened an influential group of rural health experts and stakeholders in Springfield. The two-day event gathered information and inspiration to begin drafting and executing a blueprint to improve the health of residents in rural Illinois. Summit participants identified eight specific challenges to rural communities: physician shortages, opioid use, childhood disparities, an aging population, obesity, housing and the rural economy. That Summit resulted in a report focused on rural disparities and challenges faced by rural communities. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the US in 2020, the Department of Population Science and Policy, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, UIC School of Public Health, SIU Medicine Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development re-convened to host virtual focus groups to address COVID's impact on the topics identified in the 2018 summit. The Rural Health Summit partners released 11 reports and hosted nine webinars on the pandemic's impact on rural issues and the innovative solutions employed by rural communities.

The work of the Rural Health Summit is continued in the 2022 Innovating Illinois Rural Health event series. This series of virtual and in-person events is designed to celebrate rural innovation and share best practices for rural communities.