Members of the ARISE Coalition are pictured here (from left to right): Natosha DeWeese, Bella Ease; Ellen Vonderheide, Adams County Health Department; Tasha Hiland, Quincy Medical Group; Luanna Flagg, Adams County Health Department; Maria Rench, YWCA Quincy; and Selena Stegeman, Quincy Medical Group.

QUINCY, IL – Recently, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced up to $3.7 million in grants to organizations around the state to address systemic health disparities that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recipients is the Quincy ARISE Coalition, a partnership between Quincy Medical Group (QMG), YWCA Quincy, Bella Ease, and the Adams County Health Department.

ARISE is a federally funded program that stands for Activating Relationships In Illinois for Systemic Equity. It is a joint initiative of IDPH’s Center for Minority Health Services and The Center for Rural Health, in collaboration with Well-being and Equity (WE) in the World. ARISE funds 18 coalitions across Illinois to advance health equity in partnership with communities experiencing inequities. Rather than just treating the symptoms and manifestations of health and life inequities, ARISE seeks to address underlying vital community conditions and root causes of health inequities, especially in rural areas across the state.

Selena Stegeman, Director of Business Intelligence at QMG, and Luanna Flagg, Health Educator with the Adams County Health Department, were among those who spoke at today’s press conference. The Quincy ARISE Coalition brings together community organizations that have a common interest in taking actions to understand and improve inequities that are inherent in our community.

“Our coalition came together in the spring of 2022 for the purpose of addressing post-Covid community needs,” Stegeman stated. “Early on, our coalition learned that rural America has unique challenges with social inequities that are different than urban communities. Communities in West Central Illinois are geographically distanced creating challenges including lack of transportation, access to healthcare, food insecurity, limited job opportunities, and proximity to social services.”

Last fall, in the aftermath of Covid-19, the United Way of Adams County completed a community needs assessment with a focus on understanding the state of local financial stability, education, and health through a collection of primary and secondary research, including engagement with community members and individuals of lived experience. This research resulted in the identification of key health challenges and social determinants of health that need to be addressed to improve the health of this community.

“The need has never been greater. Using this research and additional data and funding provided through this grant, the Quincy ARISE Coalition will use a data-driven approach to identify, understand, and take necessary actions to help educate members of the community and reduce inequities that exist in healthcare,” said Flagg.

The ARISE Coalitions are formed throughout the state. Each coalition is customizing its health equity experience to meet the needs of the local community in which it serves. Each coalition has a range of one to four individuals with lived experience that are part of the discussions and decision-making processes to change health inequity.

“Although we are operating in different parts of the state, we will come together as one coalition in-person and monthly throughout the project. This networking will provide support among coalitions and uplift our common goals for change,” said Stegeman.