Q&A with Madie Newman, Indiana Healthy Communities program coordinator
BizVoice®sat down with the Indiana Healthy Communities Program Coordinator Madie Newman to discuss her role with the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) and why Indiana communities (of any shape or size) can benefit from achieving the Indiana Healthy Community designation.
Newman started her work with the WCI in May. She has her undergraduate degree from Indiana University in public health and a master’s degree in environmental and occupational health from the University of Colorado.
BizVoice: What’s your main focus with the initiative?
Madie Newman: “My first focus was just streamlining the process and that stems from my background in the consumer experience, making sure that even though every community looks different and their initiative is going to look different, the process is the same and the expectations are laid out at the beginning so that there are no surprises involved.
“Now that a lot of that is in place, we’re trying to actively identify those communities that really should go through this process.”
BV: What are you looking for in determining which communities should be going through this designation process?
MN: “Especially in Indiana, one could argue there is no healthy community, just given the health statistics in our state compared to the rest of the nation. What we’re looking for are those communities that are actively working to change that.
“We’re trying to convene people and give communities a singular voice, so they can communicate all those things out and reach out and attain the goal of having people work and live there. Impacting health outcomes is always a goal, but it’s not the main goal when we’re talking about healthy communities. (It’s) communities that are trying their best to improve the quality of life of their citizens.”
BV:Why is it important for communities to consider the health of their population and work toward stronger health outcomes for the local economy?
MN: “The Wellness Council has focused on employer health and we’re trying to reach out to the larger community with that. It all comes down to, when you’re talking about the economy, you’re talking about the health of your workforce.
“We’re 34thin drug deaths, 40thworst in obesity, 41stworst in the percentage of smokers and second-to-last in public health funding. It affects individuals and by extension, it affects our workforce. We have less people participating and our talent pools are smaller and there is a lot of turnover, especially in industries we’re known for, such as manufacturing.
“It’s a big issue. It affects businesses’ bottom lines. They have to take notice and start caring more about not only what happens in the workplace, but what happens in the community because that’s where those employees go home to.”
BV: What are some of the best practices you’ve seen of communities that have gone through or are currently going through the designation process?
MN:“One of the best things you can do is just take an inventory of what you have going on with those key stakeholders.
“Having a core group of people who can take stock: ‘This is what we have and these are some of the things we need.’ And figuring out how to get there together as opposed to making goals as separate entities and trying to carry them out separately.”
BV: That can seem daunting – what do you say to encourage communities to keep going?
MN: “The Wellness Council of Indiana is here to help. A lot of communities are very self-sufficient, and they are excited to get these people together and they know the people in their community better than we do.
“Ultimately, it’s going to be the responsibility on your part to get these people together. But we are willing to help and get those key players involved. Oftentimes there’s already a community group or coalition that is working on these things.”
Resource: Madie Newman, Wellness Council of Indiana, at www.wellnessindiana.org