QUINCY -- As administrator of the Adams County Health Department, Jerrod Welch sees the benefit of networking with others across the state to better serve the county.
In 2018, he's taken on a larger role in making those connections by serving as president of the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators.
"You don't want to go it alone," Welch said. "We've got 80 other people working on the same type of things to bounce questions off of and look at approaches to problems our community is facing."
The association formed in 1971 to promote and provide better local health services, and to target common issues across public health departments in the state.
Welch, for example, can share with the group the Adams Counth Health Department's experiences with the Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home and bring back to Adams County information on other issues.
"We're all learning real time what is going on, what we need to be aware of," he said. "That puts everybody in a mode of being just a little more prepared to address emerging issues within their own communities."
Welch got involved with the association in 2012, thanks to his predecessor, Nancy Bluhm, and he gradually took on a larger role from serving on committees to becoming a regional chairman, then the association's legislative chairman.
"You have to give back to the things that you take from," he said. "I felt it was important to give back to the organization and try to make sure I was a part of it in a bigger sense than just being a participant member."
He spent a year as president-elect, working with 2017 President Rhonda Andrews from Fayette County. This calendar year as president, he will work with President-elect Phil Jass from Grundy County.
"We have a voice in what happens with public health at the state level," Welch said. "It really is an opportunity to take all of those local experts and put their voice into a solid statement and be able to present that to other organizations, government, lawmakers to make sure we're going down the right path for public health and communities supported by public health."
When busy with association duties, Welch relies on the support of the Board of Health and work by the team at the Adams County Health Department.
"If I go to Springfield for one of these meetings, they don't miss a beat in Quincy," he said.
The association's top priorities for the year include bringing a national quality public health conference to Illinois.
"We're working toward bringing in a couple of national speakers and coordinating on some sort of conference platform to bring that quality into administrators and staffs of health departments in Illinois," Welch said.
"It's exciting to be part of an organization which brings great quality back to our community. At the same time, it allows every community in Illinois to have some commonality within our approach to public health services."