Barry-Eaton District Health Department Receives Grant to Focus on Community Health Improvement

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department, a Michigan Primary Care Association member, was selected by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) 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.  This funding will help the Barry-Eaton District Health Department 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. Barry-Eaton District Health Department is among 12 local health departments across the nation to receive this award which is supported through funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Health Department’s project focuses on health assessment and planning for Eaton, Ingham, and Clinton counties as a Capital Area region.  Barry-Eaton District Health Department is coordinating the effort and will co-lead the project with the Ingham County Health Department and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department.

“Our project will take a look at what makes people healthy, or not so healthy, in the rural, suburban, and urban areas of each county,” said Anne Barna, Health Analyst for the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.  “Together with community partners, we will develop a plan to improve health and reduce health inequities in the Capital Area.” The assessment and improvement planning will take approximately 12-18 months to complete.

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.

“We are proud to be selected by NACCHO as one of 12 demonstration sites to receive funding in order to pursue accreditation through quality health assessment and improvement planning. The grant is evidence of our long-standing commitment to improving the health of our community and to advancing public health standards nationwide,” said Steve Tackitt, Health Officer for the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

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 health assessment 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.”

For more information about the CHA CHIP project, visit http://www.naccho.org/chachip

For more information about the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, visit www.barryeatonhealth.org.

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