As the Director of Public Relations and Health Care Services for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Executive Director for Medical Student Missions, Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight Mark Back has found some unique and substantial ways to give back to our community and beyond.
Back found his passion for the Medical Student Missions in 2011, when he made a trip to Haiti with his family before graduating from Purdue. “It was eye opening and fulfilling to help,” said Back.
Medical Student Missions provides unique “Learning through Service” opportunities to highly motivated volunteers. Designed for not only medical students, the successful field operations also involve the special skills that nurses, physicians, and other paramedical as well as non-medically trained volunteers bring and share while caring for the citizens of the Artibonite, the largest political Departement of Haiti. Since their initial trip coordinated by founder Dr. William Forgey in 2010, the organization has made more than 30 trips with over 250 volunteers.
After Back completed his Masters in Public Health from Indiana University, Dr. Forgey asked Mark to join his team as the Executive Director, knowing what this organization had meant to him and his family. Back has been in charge of the state-side portion of operations as well as fundraising, and admissions since 2014. Currently Back is organizing a fundraiser, which will take place on November 16th at Innsbrook Country Club, for the organization. The money raised will help with the overall program and keep costs reasonable in order to allow students to volunteer and travel to Haiti.
As the Director of Public Relations and Health Care Services for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Back is the spokesperson for all communication between the department and the news media.
Back stated regarding his role, “We believe strongly in transparence and it is my job to make sure that we get the information - especially regarding safety - out to the public.” He also manages new programs that have to do with healthcare within the jail or law enforcement. He recently directed the implementation of the House Bill 1269, which allows the Lake County Jail to start applying for Medicaid benefits for qualifying inmates interred for 30 days or longer.
“It was my job to implement that for the sheriff’s department. I oversee a small staff who work with inmates to get them enrolled in health insurance, and we are also working on other projects to make sure that our inmate population is as healthy as possible in the most cost effective way,” explained Back.
In his downtime Back resides in Crown Point with his fiancé Katie, a nurse practitioner at the Lake County Jail, and their dog Nali. Katie and Mark, who met at Purdue have traveled all over the country backpacking through the national parks. They run the website http://www.go-backpacking.com, a guide for those interested in backpacking. The website is also a host for information on conservation, and documents their experiences during their journey of visiting each of the country’s 59 National Parks.
Mark volunteers as a search and recovery K-9 recovery handler and is in the process of training their dog Nali to contribute to the search and rescue team for Lake County. She will be certified in the spring. Back, grew up in Crown Point and returned to the area after Grad School. He is enjoying being closer to his family who resides in Crown Point as well and settling into his new home that he and his fiancé recently purchased.
Back said, “I love the place where I was raised and grew up, I have great memories here. It is a wonderful community and a great place to be. It’s an excellent place to start a family one day”.
As for what he loves about our community here in Northwest Indiana Back said, “Now that I’m involved with the Sherriff’s department and non-profit work, as well as seeing the work those around me have done, its’ impressive to see so many great people who want to give back in this community. Katie and I feel like this is the right place for us to be."
To Find out more about Medical Student Missions or to become a volunteer, you can find them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/MedicalStudentMissionsInc. To get your ticket to their upcoming fundraiser, please contact Mark at: (219) 712-5220.