The executive director of the Community Health Improvement Partnership, commonly called CHIP, will move to a new office next month.
The move from Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s community outreach department will allow Janelle Martin to spend more time on a variety of health issues and less on preventing tobacco use.
Her salary is currently paid by LMH and a state Chronic Disease Risk Reduction grant that the health department receives. That grant dictates how she reached out to the community.
Starting Jan. 1, LMH will pay her entire salary, so Martin will center on areas such as physical activity, nutrition and health reform.
“I am somewhat sad to let go of some of the tobacco issues that we’ve been working on, but it’s exciting to have a new challenge,” she said.
CHIP was created in 1997 to provide direction and strategies for improving health in Douglas County. Leaders from health organizations and community agencies in Douglas County lead CHIP and provide Martin with direction. These leaders include Dan Partridge, director of the health department; Gene Meyer, LMH president and CEO; David Johnson, CEO of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; and Rick Doll, Lawrence schools superintendent.
Meyer said there will be no changes in CHIP’s function or structure.
“We aren’t trying to take over CHIP, we are just trying to make sure it’s sustainable,” he said. “Janelle will continue to focus on bringing together as many local health care organizations as we can to create meaningful dialogue about how we can improve the community’s health while not duplicating efforts.”
As for the health department’s tobacco grant, Partridge said Rebecca Lo, an intern, will take over those responsibilities through July, when the new grant year begins. He said the grant was worth about $170,000 three years ago, and this year, it is about $65,000. He said the department won’t know how much next year’s grant will be worth until June.
Partridge said he would like to hire a full-time worker to assume the obligations of the grant. He also would like to see if they can use the grant to focus on more than tobacco prevention.
“We will see how far we can push that envelope,” he said.