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Twelve Local Health Departments Receive Grants to Focus on Community Health Improvement


Becky Wexler

Twelve Local Health Departments Receive Grants to Focus on Community Health Improvement

Funding will help demonstration sites prepare for public health accreditation process

Washington, DC (July 25, 2011)—The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) announced today its selection of 12 local health departments to receive grant funding to initiate and complete a robust community health improvement process in preparation for the new, voluntary, national accreditation process for public health departments  due to launch in September.  With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), each local health department received $35,000 to develop a community health assessment (CHA) and a community health improvement plan (CHIP), two of the three prerequisites that every health department must complete before applying for accreditation.

Each demonstration site will engage community members and local public health system partners to improve the overall health of their jurisdictions. NACCHO will use lessons learned from the grantees’ experiences to create a public resource center, complete with examples of high-quality CHAs and CHIPs, to help other local health departments complete the community health improvement process after the formal accreditation rollout.

In addition to working on issues affecting their communities, the demonstration sites also will investigate why some groups of people might not be as healthy as others, and develop a plan to address these health inequities.  For example, if a CHA identifies high rates of death from heart disease and low rates of physical activity in a community, the grantee might also consider the social and economic factors contributing to the statistic, such as  a lack of safe sidewalks and grocery stores selling fresh fruits and vegetables.  This additional information would allow a community to consider the full range of issues that impact its health and health improvement strategies to make it easier for people to be healthy.

“We are pleased to be able to give these local health departments the opportunity to build upon the work they are doing to achieve accreditation status and address health equity  in their communities,” said NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk. “Many of these sites have already established successful partnerships to complete useful community health assessments and improvement plans. We anticipate they will all serve as models not just for other NACCHO members preparing to apply for accreditation, but for any organization interested in painting an accurate picture of the health of their community and taking steps with partners to improve health in their community.”

“This is a critical step toward getting our nation’s health departments ready for public health accreditation,” said RWJF Program Officer Pamela G. Russo. “We are extremely pleased about the diversity represented in this group of demonstration sites—we have big cities, small rural areas and  health departments working together to share cross-jurisdictional resources and activities. The lessons learned from this project will help other local health departments prioritize health needs in their communities based on evidence and community input and act on those priorities in collaboration with a wide range of partners.”

NACCHO received a total of 127 applications for the 12 demonstration project grants. The local health departments selected, listed below, met as a group for the first time at the NACCHO Annual 2011 Conference in Hartford, CT, July 20-22, 2011.

CHA/CHIP Demonstration Sites

  • Alachua County Health Department, Gainesville, FL
  • Barry-Eaton District Health Department, Charlotte/Hastings, MI
  • Central Valley Health District, Jamestown, ND
  • City of Austin Health and Human Services, TX
  • Gallatin City-County Health Department, Bozeman, MT
  • Kittitas County Public Health Department, Ellensburg, WA
  • East Central Kansas Public Health Coalition, KS
  • New Orleans Health Department, LA
  • Norwalk Health Department, CT
  • Plumas County Public Health Agency, Chester, CA
  • San Francisco Department of Public Health, CA
  • Thomas Jefferson Health District, Charlottesville area, VA

For more information about this project, visit http://www.naccho.org/chachip.

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.