Manchester University will host a conference on its Fort Wayne campus next month regarding topics connected to health care for vulnerable and underserved populations such as public policy.

The “Improving Health & Wellness of Vulnerable and Underserved Populations” conference is organized by MU’s College of Pharmacy, Natural and Health Sciences and will feature local and national professionals who can answer questions about what health care vulnerability means and how the medical community can address it.

The keynote speaker Sept. 6 will be Angie Settle, who is CEO of West Virginia Health Right, Inc., which has opened West Virginia’s oldest and largest clinic to treat vulnerable and underserved residents.

Sessions on Sept. 7 will include a discussion about Allen County’s demographics and needs with Rachel Blakeman from the Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute. Additional sessions will be facilitated by Tony Gillespie, vice president of public policy and engagement at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and Dr. Brad Isbister, medical director at Matthew 25.

The conference will take place Sept. 6 and 7 at the MU Fort Wayne campus, 10627 Diebold Road. Tickets cost $20 per person and allow admission for both days. Registration can be done at

Walker receives top nursing award

Jamey Walker, director of nursing and clinical informatics at The Village at Kendallville, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Joan Ann McHugh Award.

This award is sponsored by LeadingAge, an association of not-for-profit senior service providers. It is meant to celebrate the achievements of nursing leaders who pursue careers in long-term care.

Walker graduated from Purdue University Calumet and has been working for the Lutheran Life Villages network since 2015, working her way up to director of nursing. In this position, she has helped implement the “Positive Approach to Care” and encouraged her colleagues to improve the quality of care provided to Village residents.

“I feel so grateful to work for an organization that has allowed me to learn and grow and have the opportunity to be involved in so many new initiatives,” Walker said in a statement. “It made me realize how many great things we have accomplished.”

Walker will receive the award during the LeadingAge annual meeting in October in San Diego, California. In addition to the award, Walker will also receive $1,000 to go toward professional development. Walker stated that she intends to use the money to become certified in gerontological nursing.

Parkview extends scholarship support for USF

Parkview Health has reached an agreement with the University of Saint Francis that will see the health network providing $200,000 in scholarships annually between 2020 and 2022.

It does not specify which fields of study are earmarked for the scholarship, but the intention is to increase the number of trained nurses and other health care professionals to fill in the gaps felt by not only Parkview, but health systems everywhere.

“Parkview and Saint Francis have collaborated for many years to support the education of nurses in our community,” Judy Boerger, Parkview Health senior vice president and chief nursing executive, said in a statement. “As the nationwide nursing shortage continues to grow due to the expansion of nursing roles and the retirement of the baby boomer population, our local need for nurses remains critical to meeting the needs of our patients and their families.”

HHS funds awarded to help Hoosiers

The state of Indiana recently received almost $8.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to further the fight against opioid addiction.

The funds, given by way of the HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration, will be utilized, per an announcement from the department, to provide more mental health and addiction services to community health centers and organizations that care for residents in rural areas of the state.

“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” HHS secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “… Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”

The state will have $3.7 million at its disposal from the Integrated Behavioral Health Services program to improve access to integrative behavioral health services and mental health care that could, down the road, lower the number of people that turn to substance use to cope as well as treat people looking to get off the drugs.

This awarding of funds is part of the HRSA’s campaign to reach 96 rural organizations across 39 states and help improve the quality and access to mental and behavioral health care.

Chelsea Boulrisse is an experienced reporter who primarily covers health care and the medical device industry. You can send information for her weekly column to or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3307.

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