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Meet Alliance Director Rick Hodges

Alliance Director Rick Hodges
January 11, 2022

Rick Hodges came to the Ohio Alliance for Population Health in 2017 after serving as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health under Governor John Kasich for three years.  While Director, Rick was impressed by the complex local coalitions across Ohio addressing population health needs. He envisions the Alliance as a forum for bringing together partners from around the state and across the health care industry to focus resources in support of local initiatives.  

“Frequently, local leaders simply need to fill the gaps in their infrastructure with one or two ingredients like research design and support, analytics, continuing education, process planning, funding, advocacy etc. to achieve their goals," Hodges said. "We offer to help in the spirit of responding to what local leaders tell us they need.”  

One example of this approach is school-based health.  Hodges heard local school officials saying they needed help with the primary health care needs of their students.  Students are not in a good position to learn if they have behavioral health issues, are suffering from a health concern that would normally present itself in a well-child visit, need to improve their nutrition or are not up to date on their vaccines.  Teachers are concerned about the impact of these health concerns on the health of the student, and potential disruptions to the learning environment for other students.   

OAPH partners Wright State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Ohio University George Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and College of Health Sciences and Professions came together to provide 16 school districts a series of five day-long workshops to walk through the decision process of developing a school-based health program. Referred to as “The Appalachian Whole Child Partnership Project,” (AWCPP), the workshops addressed topics ranging from performing a needs assessment to surveying the provider infrastructure, developing a business plan, identifying sustainable funding, and implementing the plan.   

When it comes to school-based health one size does- not- fit all.  Every school district has different needs and resources and addresses those needs in different environments.  AWCPP provides a framework for empowering local decision-makers to design the systems that work for them.   

In the same spirit, OAPH is working with 5 local county health districts, one city health district and Genesis Health System to perform their triennial Community Health Assessment, Community Health Improvement Plan and Community Health Needs Assessment on a regional basis.  These local health districts all work together in the same hospital catchment area.  They have already been collaborating and want to expand that collaboration to take advantage of regional economies of scale and similar interests.   

The group has been meeting for more than a year to plan and is now implementing the strategy.  The result will be a regional agenda that also addresses local needs. OAPH partners Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, Ohio University, Genesis Health System, Coshocton City and Coshocton, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble and Perry County health departments came together to look at population health issues regionally, at a fraction of the cost of doing it separately. 

Hodges’ area of responsibility within OAPH includes public health infrastructure, infectious and chronic disease.  He received his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Toledo.  He has spent most of his career working with hospitals and private industry groups to address population health needs in addition to serving as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and Director of the Ohio Department of Health.  

You can contact him to discuss these and other projects by emailing or calling 262.832.4440.