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IPAC member organizations:

 Community Partners

  1. Parent Partners
  2. Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling Services, Inc.
  3. Athens County Help Me Grow and Children Services
  4. Athens County Family and Children First Council
  5. Southern Consortium for Children
  6. University Medical Associates
  7. Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development
  8. Athens County Department of Job and Family Services
  9. Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Head Start
  10. Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center
  11. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Ohio
  12. Family Healthcare, Inc.
  13. Health Recovery Services
  14. Athens County Juvenile Court

University Partners

  1. College of Osteopathic Medicine:
    • Department of
      Family Medicine
    • Department of Pediatrics
    • Area Health Education Center
    • Community Health Programs
  2. College of Arts and Sciences: Psychology and Social Work Clinic
  3. College of Health and Human Services: Hearing, Speech and Language Clinic




April 21, 2008

 Children’s health network gains non-profit status

Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children (IPAC) gains fundraising advantages with 501(c)3 status

The regional children’s rural health network Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children (IPAC) recently gained non-profit charity status. This qualifies the network and its member organizations to apply for additional funding streams, and it makes individual donations to IPAC tax-deductible. Those benefits will help sustain and expand the efforts of IPAC over time, according to Jane Hamel-Lambert, Ph.D., IPAC president and director of interdisciplinary mental health education at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM).

“IPAC came about as a means to share expertise, integrate efforts and make children’s comprehensive health care more accessible for parents and other caregivers,” said Hamel-Lambert. “We’re trying to leverage the resources we have now to more efficiently serve children.”

 The network comprises fourteen community agencies in Athens, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton Counties, in addition to several Ohio University departments and clinics. Representatives of member organizations meet regularly to share how they identify and assess mental health risks in early childhood, forge new collaborations and eliminate redundant efforts.

“I think IPAC is somewhat unique in its scale of cooperation among community and university programs,” said Dave Hunter, director of Help Me Grow, an Athens County Children Services program for expectant parents, newborns, infants and toddlers. Hunter added that Help Me Grow has already benefited from the collaboration in the form of increased referrals from other IPAC members. “We’re becoming more aware of each others’ services, and we’re cross-training to better identify different development risks.”

 IPAC developed and supports a “family navigator” position: a registered nurse who works with families of children to overcome common barriers to health care—from demystifying medical diagnoses to facilitating transportation.

 “As family navigator, I walk parents through many steps, not only to make sure their child receives appropriate services, but to also make sure the parents know what is happening at each step and why,” said Sue Meeks, R.N., IPAC’s first family navigator and a behavioral health care coordinator at OU-COM.

 Meeks explains that families often toil through multiple referrals before reaching a diagnosis or treatment plan. “Previously, parents repeatedly answered the same questions, often not understanding why they were there. As family navigator, I gather
all the information prior to the referral and also ensure that the parents have the information they need to make informed choices about their child’s care.”

 IPAC, which received a Distinguished Rural Health Program Award from the
Ohio Department of Health in September, is currently supported by a three-year, $540,000 grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Rural Health Policy.

Over the next three years, IPAC members plan to expand services offered by the family navigator program, develop interdisciplinary mental health assessments and comprehensive care plans for children, and further train child care and health care providers to screen children regularly for social and developmental risks. 

 For information on IPAC, its family navigator program, or what you can do to support IPAC, please contact Jane Hamel-Lambert, Ph.D., at (740) 593-2289 or

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Last updated: 01/28/2016