The Cherokee County Health Services Council is enlisting the help of the Northeastern State University Police Department and other partners as it combats the spread of HIV/AIDS in rural communities.
“There have been increased cases of HIV/AIDS in rural Oklahoma over the past five years and this grant is to build capacity in three counties – Cherokee, Adair, Delaware – to address this health risk,” Pamela Iron, CCHS executive director, said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Tri-County HIV/AIDS Network Grant program awarded the Cherokee County Health Services Council $100,000 over one year to assist in fighting the disease and strengthening the area's rural health care system. Iron said CCHSC saw the need and wrote the grant proposal, hoping to accomplish a strong network that will plan, act, evaluate the needs and then provide necessary education and services to decrease this contagious disease.
“The Tri-County HIV/AIDS Network Grant is about planning and identifying needs for one year, the next step will be providing education, resources and treatment opportunities,” Iron said.
She said he has hired Registered Nurse Ellen Wolfe as director of the network.
"It is important to form networks of organizations that include medical, law enforcement and community advocacy organizations in order to share experiences and to support each other to resolve a disease that is transmittable in the population," said Wolfe.
Of the awarded amount, each agency partnering with CCHSC receives a stipend for participating and providing input, including NSUPD which received $5,000.
NSU’s Police Chief James Bell said representatives with CCHSC contacted NSUPD about being a partner. He added CCHSC asked police departments to get involved because they wanted to reach out to homeless and jail populations. Bell said while other university departments have partnered with CCHSC on different initiatives, this would be the first time for the NSUPD. He added his department is happy to be of assistance.
Iron said the public health field has recognized how vital law enforcement is to dealing with public health issues.
“They have direct contact with the community and have important observations, interactions and access to community members,” Iron said. “Granting agencies recognize law enforcement as viable advocates in their respective communities and value their opinion. We hope to have other partnerships with the NSU police department in the future because again they are an important sector to include in our network.”
Other partners are medical providers, NeoHealth, Jay’s Mease Medical Clinic, Stilwell hospital, as well as community organizations, including the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center and the Delaware County Community Partnership.
For more information about the NSUPD’s involvement in the Tri-County HIV/AIDS Network grant, email Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact email@example.com for information regarding the Tri-County HIV/AID Health Network.