|Welcome to Region G|
The Region G Public Health Collaborative was officially established in the fall of 2008. This group consists of nine Local Public Health Agencies (LPHA’s) in Southern Missouri. Region G is composed of Carter, Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Reynolds, Shannon, Texas, and Wright Counties. They began working together in 2003 under a bioterrorism contract with the MO Department of Health and Senior Services. Texas County was home base, holding the contract for a Regional Planner and Epidemiologist. This contract required frequent meetings and collaboration with emergency plans, trainings, and exercises to demonstrate understanding and ability to work together as a cohesive group. A friendship began and during the meetings they began to trust and depend on one another. Memorandums of Agreement (MOU) were signed and the counties agreed to help one another with staffing and resources in emergencies. It was during the exercises of emergency scenarios that it became evident a bond between the group members had formed. They knew each other by name as well as county and at state meetings they socialized and experienced relaxed fun as well as work. They now saw themselves as a region and less as individual counties.
In January of 2008 all nine counties came to a meeting as guests of Missouri Institute of Community Health (MICH) to discuss volunteer accreditation. They were able to share their concerns and MICH showed the group they listened and were amenable to their needs by discussing minimal subtle changes in the standards. Region G came away feeling that accreditation was a very real possibility but the counties were small, rural, and remote and some felt we should explore the feasibility of “joint accreditation”. Reynolds County contacted a MICH member and requested information and the possibility of “joint accreditation”. MICH related a National Association of County and City Health Organizations (NACCHO) funding opportunity that could be of assistance in their exploring all opportunities. Douglas and Reynolds Counties discussed the funding opportunity with the other seven counties and they decided to go for it collaboratively. Douglas and Reynolds Counties wrote the proposal and all nine counties discussed with their governing boards the need to explore this funding opportunity.With all nine governing boards signing support letters the proposal was written and sent to NACCHO. Douglas County had established an intranet e mail team web site to facilitate sharing of information, documents, policies, procedures and requests.This proved invaluable in facilitating the communication needs of Region G in the writing and delivery of the proposal. A Region G web site is presently under construction. In February 2008 they got the news that only 60 proposals were funded nationally. Region G in southern Missouri and a group of three small rural counties in northern Missouri were both chosen for NACCHO funding. Contracts with NACCHO were signed and the work began to see how ready a small rural health Department was in seeking national accreditation. Region G LPHA’s used a survey tool comparing them individually to the National Accreditation Model. The proposal lasted from February through November of 2008. There was work to do and it kept the counties working collectively and independently to get the job done. As part of the deliverables the group had to choose a NACCHO approved consultant to bring the group into a “formalized” collaborative with a strategic plan. They chose a consultant from Iowa who was familiar with rural public health and the serious job of legally binding this group together began. Because this group knew and trusted one another and had worked together on past emergency exercises they were able to come to consensus in a much shorter time and with greater ease than would be the case of strangers. With the help of the consultant they collectively designed a three year strategic plan with specific deliverables and timeline. One of their top priorities was to collectively do a regional community health assessment. It is a state contract deliverable that LPHA’s do an individual county community health assessment every three years. The group felt that a regional document done with help from a university school of public health would enable them to compare “apples to apples”. This document could assist the collaborative in seeking funding for the group as the data would be compelling coming from a regional viewpoint. They researched the legality of Local Public Health Agencies (LPHA’s) coming together and contracting with one another. They were able to identify the Missouri State Laws and Statutes that legally allow LPHA’s to contract with each other, and with other agencies in state and in other states. The result was a legally binding charter that formalized the Region G Public Health Collaborative.
Upon completion of the survey tool all nine counties were able to see their individual gaps and were they scored high and low. It was a consensus across all nine counties that one of the biggest gaps was they had not formed a working relationship with academia and they had not participated in a research project. They collectively decided to contact several universities within the state for a summer intern to assist with a regional community health assessment. The request was made to several universities across the state and Southeast Missouri State University School of Public Health professor John Kraemer and a student intern met with Region G and agreed upon a creating a regional document collecting the same data across the region. This contract will solidify a partnership between Region G and academia and complete the first deliverable on the collaborative strategic plan. This community health assessment will take place over the summer months of 2009 and the final document will be completed by the end of September.
Because of the work Region G had done with NACCHO, MICH began to look at Region G and our northern group very seriously. MICH offered Region G and the group in the north their FIRST Mini Collaborative. The mini collaborative is an opportunity for Quality Improvement (QI) education for each of the individual agencies. This would assist us in our journey towards MO volunteer accreditation. This is a three year journey and at is finish MICH hopes to send us out to other LPHA’s to teach and encourage them to move forward on their individual journey to volunteer accreditation.
Region G is presently working collaboratively with Region E on a project with John Hopkins University School of Public Health to assess the readiness of the public health workforce to respond in a public health emergency.
The Center for Local Public Health Function (CLPHF) Services at the MO Department of Health and Senior Services contacted Region G and the northern group to offer additional funding on our CPHF contracts for fiscal year 2010. The deliverables for this additional funding will be attendance at computer data training and for each individual county LPHA to track six indicators on a balanced scorecard.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering a public health funding opportunity to create Public Health Research Evidence-Based Health Networks. MICH is taking the lead and writing this proposal and has offered Douglas and Reynolds County a partnership to trial some deliverables with the other region G counties to see the feasibility and efficacy of these tools in a rural public health environment.
Recently in the H1N1 Influenza A outbreak Region G had an opportunity to test its ability to collaboratively get the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) supplies quickly and cost effectively. Wright County took the lead and secured the supplies for the entire region and drove back and distributed them efficiently and without difficulty. This is yet another shinning example of the benefits of collaboration and partnership.