San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium, CA
For many years, public health departments have been forced to rely on limited, inconsistent, and narrowly focused funding sources to do their work, hampering their ability to reliably build the cross-cutting competencies and skills needed to address public health challenges and health inequities. By pooling resources and sharing staff, expertise, funds, and programs, local public health departments often accomplish more together than they could alone. When established by willing partners and developed in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner, cross-agency resource-sharing arrangements can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and strategies. The 2019 Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System report recommends that health departments, as appropriate, explore resource sharing arrangements with neighboring departments to fill in gaps or increase effectiveness and efficiency of foundational public health services.
The San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium (SJVPHC) comprises 11 counties in a mainly rural and agricultural region of central California. Its members include the county health directors and county health officers from participating counties. The counties tend to have very similar public health issues and for over 20 years, the SJVPHC has met to discuss respective and collective challenges, exchange ideas, share information, and otherwise support one another in informal ways. For the past several years, member dues supported a part-time coordinator to support meeting logistics. Although SJVPHC members have had many ideas about potential joint programs, they lacked the resources to bring them to fruition. Just before the pandemic struck, health equity emerged as a shared priority and catalyzed a decision to hire a director and develop a strategic plan to share resources to address this issue as a region. As it has since the consortium was established, the California State University-Fresno (CSU-Fresno) Foundation serves as a fiscal agent and provides office space for SJVPHC staff.
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