Extension strengthens communities by
improving public health standards and expanding access to new, up-to-date health care practices.

Photo of Chris Allen operating levers on farm machinery
Thanks to Missouri AgrAbility, Chris Allen is once again able to work the land on his farm.

As with your own health, maintaining the health of a community takes a combination of preventive and responsive measures. A community should have the means to respond to health concerns — such as trained emergency responders and properly equipped care facilities — and take proactive measures to prevent or reduce the incidence of health concerns.

In the past five years, aging baby boomers have made Missourians age 60 and older the fastest growing age group in the state. As baby boomers approach retirement age, more of them are seeking care in hospitals and other care facilities. There’s a gap between the supply of dedicated, experienced nurses and the demand for their services in hospitals and long-term care settings. MU Extension’s Nursing Outreach program is working to close that gap and ensure Missouri’s seniors get the care they need.

True to the land-grant mission of MU Extension, Nursing Outreach is dedicated to bringing resources available in the MU School of Nursing to resident nurses across the state and beyond. In addition to conferences and classes aimed at improving leadership, Nursing Outreach offers online learning opportunities to reach those who cannot attend programs in person.

Nursing Outreach partnered with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to create the Enhanced Leadership Development Academy. The academy focuses on improving leadership skills and decreasing turnover, which can be a major problem in long-term care facilities. By improving participants’ leadership skills in the workplace, the academy improves retention of these professionals and makes them invaluable resources at their care facilities. In addition to improving senior care, Nursing Outreach has other programs aimed at improving standards at hospitals and other care facilities across the state.

Whereas programs like those conducted by Nursing Outreach take a broader view of health across the state, Missouri AgrAbility focuses specifically on helping farmers, veterans and others with disabilities return to and thrive in agriculture, employment and rural life. With input from doctors, physical therapists, agriculture specialists and experts in assistive technology, AgrAbility helps people overcome injuries or disabilities to get back to what they love.

In Shelby County, a farmer named Chris Allen suffered a brain aneurysm that resulted in a stroke. Routine tasks such as walking the fence line or using a tape measure became tiring and difficult for him. When Allen was laid up in a St. Louis hospital bed needing to focus on his recovery, he said he couldn’t help being nagged by thoughts of crops sitting untended in his fields. That's when AgrAbility got involved.

"I knew I needed to get home and get ready for harvest.
The truth of the matter is at that time I couldn’t have done anything. Physically and mentally, I wasn’t up to it.”
—Chris Allen, farmer

With rehabilitation and help from AgrAbility, he learned how to use assistive devices and to rely on technology for tasks that would otherwise have been too taxing for him to do on his own. Now he doesn’t tire as easily while going about the day-to-day tasks of operating and maintaining his farm.

Public health maintenance is a complex and multifaceted societal issue. However, MU Extension has the expertise and resources necessary to address public health generally with preventive measures and specifically with targeted, responsive programs.

Bone density and fall prevention are major concerns for the elderly, and being proactive is much more effective and less costly than dealing with these issues after the fact. Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is an eight-week strength training program tailored to the needs of older adults, regardless of fitness level, to increase bone density and build muscle to reduce the likelihood of a fall.

A survey of acute care facilities by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that 1 in 25 patients will suffer from a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), or infections contracted in health care settings. HAIs can be deadly to vulnerable populations, such as the young and the elderly. With support from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Nursing Outreach educates health care professionals on best practices to minimize the threat of HAIs in ambulatory care and long-term care settings, such as doctors’ offices and assisted-living facilities.

The Family Nutrition Education Programs encompass a host of programs and initiatives that educate Missourians on the value of good nutrition and healthy food choices. MU Extension specialists regularly visit school classrooms and adult education facilities across the state to offer these educational opportunities.