Indiana State University Newsroom

Infant mortality task force sets meeting

March 17, 2014

The West-Central Indiana Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force will conduct its first meeting March 28 to begin developing ways to improve outcomes for babies in eight Wabash Valley counties.

Indiana has the sixth highest infant mortality rate in the country at 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births and the rate in most west-central Indiana counties exceeds the state average. The task force covers Clay, Greene, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties but members say their work will have statewide impact.

The National Leadership Academy for the Public Health selected the task force as one of 29 teams from around the country to participate in the third year of its program, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the first Indiana team selected for the program.

The academy works with and trains multi-sector teams through an applied, collaborative leadership development model. The program is implemented by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice, part of the Public Health Institute, and will provide training and support for one year, focusing on two tracks: development of leadership skills and team-based collaborative work aimed at effecting changes in policies and systems.

The inaugural meeting of the task force is set for 3 p.m. at the Landsbaum Center for Health Education, adjacent to Union Hospital in Terre Haute.

Members of the panel are Stephanie Laws, executive director of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative; Jack Turman, dean of Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services; Jeena Siela, deputy director of the Indiana State Department of Health's Maternal and Child Health Division; and Elizabeth Burrows, chief executive officer of Valley Professionals Community Health Center, formerly Vermillion-Parke Community Health Center.

Indiana Health Commissioner William Van Ness II has confirmed his participation in the meeting and Gov. Mike Pence has been invited. Health care professionals and others interested in addressing infant mortality in the region are also encouraged to attend.

Contact: Stephanie Laws, executive director, Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, 812-237-3639 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, and communications chair, Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, 812-237-3743 or