During the opening panel discussion at the Community Engagement Conference Wednesday, Ohio State was challenged to be the driving force in bringing health and wellness to surrounding communities.
Three panelists, all leaders in health care organizations, said Ohio State’s wide and diverse ability to reach the many broken parts of society makes it a leader in community betterment.
Illness prevention was a major theme throughout the event, specifically the need to focus on eating habits as treatment rather than medication.
Nearly 700 guests attended the conference to discuss the ways Ohio State can better serve individuals in need.
The speakers included Thomas Quade, president of the American Public Health Association, Joseph Crowley, president of the American Dental Association, and Mario Molina, former CEO of Molina Healthcare.
Molina said throughout his career he would often ask how health care professionals can work with people to positively influence their lives.
“You are training people who are going to go out and do things in the community,” Quade said. “You also have the ability through the extension to reach out to the community in ways that the health insurance industry and the medical field really can’t.”
Quade, who also works as Marion County’s health commissioner, said one of its most important partners is Ohio State’s branch campus in Marion.
“This is critical for the work that we do. It adds gravitas, it adds credibility to the other partners who may know them but don’t know us,” he said. “They open doors that might not otherwise be open.”
Crowley said he believes the university’s involvement in health care is important because of its societal influence.
“The millennials today have a social conscience,” he said. “They want to do good. They want to help. They want to know at the end of the day they’ve done something well.”