We are excited to welcome Stephen Black, FACHE to the MHP family. Stephen will serve in a new role at Major Health Partners as the Director of Behavioral Health & Social Determinants of Health. The MHP Foundation staff will be working with Stephen as we continue working on social determinants of health to benefit our patients in Shelby County. We wanted to introduce our supporters to Stephen - a key partner in this new initiative for us and the medical center.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I am originally from Franklin. I attended Franklin College and then the University of Indianapolis for my Master’s degree in physical therapy. In 2008, I began working for the Veterans Health Administration at the hospital in Indianapolis as a rehab coordinator. From there, my family and I went on a national tour of sorts with the VA in a variety of C-suite positions. Working for the VA was an incredible experience. It is a true population health model and gave me a real appreciation for working on a local level to support a community of people. I was able to see the impact a healthcare system can make when we go from only providing medical responses to illness to also supporting the patient proactively before they get to a place of crisis. A year ago, my wife and I decided to move back to Franklin to raise our kids in the home in which I grew up. That is what brought me back to central Indiana and to Major Health Partners. We couldn't be more excited to be here, and I couldn't be more excited for the work ahead of me!

Why did you choose MHP?

Over my twenty-year career in healthcare - from working at the bedside as a physical therapist to writing national policy for the largest healthcare system in the US - I have come to understand that real impact is made at the bedside within the context of the local community. I chose MHP, because I was ready to start making more of an impact at the local level, within a community. MHP has a storied history of prioritizing and caring for the community it serves. That was apparent to me from the first moment I stepped in the front entrance. I also found the leadership to have a resolve for doing the right thing. Integrity in our work is essential, and I knew this would be a place that would stand for what is right.

Why are social determinants of health important to you? To our community?

Health is a complex concept. That has become increasingly apparent over the last few years. MHP practices in such a way that we address the patient as a person and not as a collection of diagnoses. This new initiative is another step in that same direction. As we engage with patients, we recognize that at times their needs extend into societal contributors such as access to healthy food options, transportation, healthy water, and healthy living conditions. Delivering superior healthcare solutions means also addressing those needs and connecting our patients to entities equipped to meet those needs. The goal is to create a web of support and care around those patients in need which fits perfectly with our mission and role within this community.

What are your current goals and objectives?

Right now, the goal is to learn. It’s easy to go out to the “good idea factory”, pull some ideas off the shelf, and start implementing. But this community is unique; it has unique challenges. Therefore, it deserves thoughtful and unique solutions. And frankly, I am surrounded by people who know this community so much better than I do! My assessment after four weeks on the job is woefully shortsighted compared to those who were born and raised in Shelby County and have dutifully served the health of this community for decades. So, first, I learn and build a network of people that want to be a part of this work. Then we devise solutions that not only improve the personal wellness of our individual patients but the wellness of Shelby County. That requires partnership. If we want lasting solutions, this work cannot be done in a vacuum.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have sixty chickens coming on March 16th, and our family has never raised chickens. The kids are only allowed to name the egg-layers!