UnityPoint Health – Memorial Hospital located in Carthage, Illinois hires director for recently approved as an Illinois Area Health Education Center site. The hospital will receive four years funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration for the continuation of the Illinois Area Health Education Center Network Program (IL AHEC Network Program).

Mary Jane Clark, RN, MS, CHES, CHWC, will be working as the Director of the West Central Illinois AHEC located at UnityPoint Health - Memorial Hospital.  Prior to this position, she was the Grant and Wellness Coordinator for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN).  She has also served as the SOAR-RN (Supporting Onboarding and Retention of Rural Nurses) Coordinator for the ICAHN nurse residency program.  Prior to her work at ICAHN, she worked at Western Illinois University as a Health Resource Specialist in the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) from 2001 to 2013. From 2001 to 2007, Mary Jane served as manager for the MAPPING the Future of Your Community’s Health program, a strategic visioning and planning process to improve community health in rural areas, in the IIRA. She worked closely with rural community leaders across the state to envision a healthier community and design a plan of action to achieve it. She has served as a board member for Eagle View Community Health System, a federally qualified health center, as well as in many roles through the Illinois Rural Health Association, including president.

Mary Jane has worked in a variety of settings in the health care field and has a background in community research that includes planning initiatives for a growing elderly population, effective health communications for rural residents, innovative community models, medical liability impact on rural areas and obesity prevention for children.  She has been involved with developing curriculum for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network and has developed and compiled information on childhood obesity, diabetes, obesity in the workplace, and congestive heart failure.

Mary Jane has been working with rural health leaders throughout the state for over twenty years, providing technical assistance on a variety of health and wellness programs, conducting rural health research, and assisting rural communities develop a plan to improve the quality of life in rural areas related to health care.  She has also been a nurse in the inpatient setting, as well as the clinic setting.  “I am excited for the opportunity to work within the region to promote health careers at different levels and support community health education efforts, says Clark.

Established in 2010, the IL AHEC Network Program has eight regional centers throughout the state to serve both rural and urban underserved residents through access to health professions education, health careers development and community and public health promotion activities. The grant funding will allow for the continuation and expansion of these programs, according to Hana Hinkle, associate director of the National Center for Rural Health Professions and the IL AHEC Network Program.

The Illinois AHEC Network has a main program office in Rockford; and eight health education centers around the state that develop and offer innovative and long-term solutions to health and workforce disparities. The funding will allow expanded and enhanced education and training within the West Central Illinois region, which includes 17 counties spanning from the Quad Cities to Calhoun County. The site will help communities, academic institutions, and community-based organizations to increase the diversity and distribution of health professionals, promote healthcare quality and improve healthcare delivery to rural and underserved areas through the region.

Through previous network efforts, more than 60,000 participants have been a part of Illinois AHEC-supported programs. The Illinois AHEC Network Program is part of the National AHEC Organization developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations.

For more information, visit ahec.rockford.uic.edu.

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.UnityPoint Health Memorial Hospital is dedicated to improving health by providing education and wellness programs and innovative services at all the stages of life.  UnityPoint Health Memorial Hospital is a 501(c)(3),  non-profit critical access hospital which employs over 200, offers emergency, surgical, imaging (x-ray), laboratory, obstetrics, seven clinics throughout the region, specialty clinics and much more.  The hospital has served the residents of the Hancock County area since 1950. For more information, find us on the web at www.mhtlc.org.