Ledge Light Health District, Southeastern Connecticut
Engaging community in public health work has a positive impact on a range of health outcomes across various conditions. Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System includes a recommendation to strengthen collaboration between community-based organizations (CBOs) and public health departments. The report calls on health departments to formalize public health planning and processes that rely on input from, and share decision-making with, CBOs and the people they serve. Shared decision-making requires deliberate strategies to center the community’s expertise in all aspects of program planning, provide the space for meaningful dialogue and develop shared priorities and actions that address the community’s self-identified needs.
When the Affordable Care Act community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirement was enacted, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital (L+M) and Ledge Light Health District (LLHD), located in southeastern Connecticut, agreed it would be mutually beneficial to collaborate on developing a CHNA and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The hospital had resources for a robust assessment and the health department had data, expertise in analyzing community health needs, and strong connections with the community. The two organizations set up an advisory board that included a wide range of community organizations and individual community members, which eventually evolved into the Health Improvement Collaborative of Southeastern Connecticut. This group supports CHNA/CHIP work and shares a commitment to using a collective impact approach to address inequities through programmatic and systems level change with a focus on dismantling racist structures.
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