Health and Human Sciences


The city of Gary, Indiana, has experienced an economic downturn in recent years that has led to an unemployment rate that is 2.5 times higher than the national average. In addition, Lake County, which includes the city of Gary, is currently one of the two unhealthiest counties in the state of Indiana. Documented poor health behaviors in this area highlight the need to change how at-risk communities access health care. Community HealthNet (CHN) is a federally funded clinic with five locations in Lake County and a vision to provide accessible, affordable, and quality medical services. Since 1998, CHN has made efforts to create a continuum of care and a stabilized medical experience for patients in their jurisdiction. CHN also targets services to specific needs, such as prenatal care and education to address the high infant mortality rate in this area. A case study of this particular federally qualified health center has shown a need for sufficient information technology infrastructure and a database so that the clinic can be constantly aware of patient needs and can allocate resources effectively. Purdue researchers and I have worked closely with CHN staff to establish this database and have examined the clinic’s internal process to create and measure strategies for performance improvement. CHN shows increased efficiency in meeting funding requirements and utilizing resources. This improvement of CHN’s process will translate to improved access to affordable and high-quality health care for the Gary community.