Rockford Health Council was formed in December 1982 as a non-profit originally known as the Rockford Council for Affordable Health Care. The name was formally changed to Rockford Regional Health Council in May 1995.
When incorporated, the original 1982 board of 14 members identified the following purposes:
- To promote an optimal health care system in the Rockford Area
- To develop and test creative ideas to support an optimal health care system
- To provide information, analysis and a means of communication to achieve a consensus among affected parties regarding concepts for an optimal health care system
- To promote and support implementation by others of programs to improve cost effectiveness while preserving high standards of health care.
By the mid-1990’s, Council members developed the concept which became the Employer’s Coalition on Health (ECOH). ECOH is now a separate organization that negotiates health insurance contracts for a set of local self-insured employers.
In moving to become the Rockford Regional Health Council, the organization began to adopt the characteristics of a healthy community collaborative. By 1998, the Council had been restructured into a membership organization with a board of 25. New mission and vision statements, with similar tenets to those in place today, were adopted.
The mission of the Rockford Regional Health Council is to improve community health through data gathering and analysis, education, and advocacy. The Council is a unique collaboration of healthcare, business and community; a non-partisan organization that focuses on improving the quality of our region’s health. In fulfilling its mission, the Council conducts a Healthy Community Study – a data-driven approach to identifying trends in the health status of our region, and how they can be improved. The Study also provides the framework for our strategic plan with identified goals and priorities.
HISTORY OF THE HEALTHY COMMUNITY STUDY
In 1999, community leaders from a wide variety of organizations came together around the need for comprehensive community health data, with Rockford Regional Health Council leading the effort. The Council partnered with Health Systems Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine to complete and release the first comprehensive Healthy Community Study. The purpose of the study was to develop information on the quality of life in the Rockford Area so as to create and implement strategies to improve the lives of all residents.
In response to the 1999 Study, the Council identified 16 priority health issues, creating work teams to address each issue. In 2003, a follow-up Study was released, with a significant study of the African-American and Hispanic communities of Winnebago County being released in March 2005.
In 2010, the Council undertook an updated, comprehensive Healthy Community Study. Soon after, the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, requiring health systems to complete a Comprehensive Health Needs Assessment every three years. In response to this new legislation, the Council moved the Healthy Community Study to a triennial cycle, ensuring that our local health systems would have access to timely data to support their CHNAs. Since that time, the Council has administered Studies in 2014 and 2017. The 2020 Study is currently in progress – several components have been released, with others on the way.