STAR.Health: The Need | About STAR.Health | Vision & Mission
It is contrary to what common sense would suggest that some of the richest agricultural land in the
STAR.Health CHW, Linda Austen, assists a client.
United States has some of the most gripping poverty. Growing mechanization of farming in the Lower Mississippi River Delta has left many people out of jobs. Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) data show that educational and health goals in the Arkansas Delta are rarely reached. The end results too often are little or no better than those in some underdeveloped nations in Africa and Asia.
Nonetheless, the Delta hosts one of the unique cultures in Arkansas and the South, with rich traditions in food, literature, blues music, the history of the civil rights movement, and the connectivity and influence of the Black church.
There is strong evidence that when public professionals work actively with and through local residents – building on their cultural assets, their insights and their ideas – many of the problems can be changed for the better.
When we updated the ADH strategic plan in 2009, staff took a special look at some of the Delta's pervasive health challenges. The result was a pilot initiative to explore fresh approaches to problems in three rural southeast Arkansas counties. It’s called STAR.Health, which stands for Southeast Targeted Area Resources for Health. Participating counties are Chicot, Desha and Lincoln.
These counties are as much as 135 miles and up to two and one-half hours driving time from the state capital, Little Rock. Because local public health staff shortages are common, the initiative's aim is to recruit and train community residents who work as “helping hands” to get ADH resources to people in the most need for public services. A second goal has been to recruit from other state agencies – education, human services, economic development and workforce development – and key experts within the state's universities to join this consortium to target family and personal needs.
Vision and Mission
STAR.Health activities began in July 2009, guided by plans created by a steering group comprised of an equal number of health professionals and representatives from the local communities. The work plan included elements of the Health Department's priorities, but added other local goals related to education, economic development, transportation and community safety. Here are the vision and mission statements for the initiative:
Improved health and well being of people in Chicot, Desha and Lincoln counties
Building healthier communities through partnerships, expanding resources and addressing social and economic needs