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How can a wider audience be engaged in the broad-ranging and often complex issues of population health? Ben Harris-Roxas, a health impact assessment consultant, has some suggestions.

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This story is Part 2 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Ind.

Construction of a new teaching hospital in Gary may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s a pipe many area health and political leaders are still smoking.

The conversation begins like this: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Methodist Hospitals and some unknown partners would build a replacement hospital in Gary close to the Indiana University Medical School-Northwest Campus near Interstate 94?

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I'm a physician.  As such, the information I work with has immediate consequences.  I have to get it right every time.  Of course, no one can really get it right every time, but if you want to report health information, you have to try very, very hard.  According to a Pew survey released last fall, over 60% of Americans seek out and act on health information online.  When you put a story out there, people are going to read it and act on it, so you are, in essence, giving health advice without the benefit of a license to practice medicine.

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Winnie O. Willis is a California Endowment board member and professor emeritus of public health at SDSU's Graduate School of Public Health, with a specialization in maternal and child health services, development and evaluation. From 1994 to 2000, she was director of SDSU's Institute for Public Health, an organization working to bridge the gap between academics and practice in the public health arena. Prior to joining the GSPH faculty in 1984, she was an assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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Dr. Robert Cooper is executive director of the West Oakland Health Council, a nonprofit organization providing primary care, mental health and substance abuse recovery services at five clinics to residents of Emeryville, southwest Berkeley and north, east and west Oakland.

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John Golenski is executive director of the George Mark Children's House, a children's respite and end-of-life care facility in San Leandro, Calif., for children with life-limiting or terminal illnesses. All care is informed by the principles of palliative care. Additional support services are available to all family members, and services are provided regardless of a family's ability to pay. Golenski joined the George Mark Children's House after a long career in clinical services, health care ethics and health policy. From 1978 to 1979, he was executive director of the Shanti Project.

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