Faculty Applied Research and Consulting Produces Results
The college’s Center for Public Policy and Health (CPPH) is working on several high-profile projects this year, providing research and technical assistance to Ohio government agencies, community partners and nonprofit organizations. Recent work has involved health department consolidation, hospital system community health needs assessment and municipal officials’ certification. Contract and grant support for 2013 to date is more than $400,000.
The center is assisting the Ravenna and Portage County health departments in efforts to consolidate operations. This has involved assessing the feasibility of consolidation and facilitating meetings designed to enable agreement on consolidation arrangements. Support from the State of Ohio’s Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) is underwriting the effort. On July 2, the Ravenna City Council approved a contract implementing what Ravenna Service Director Kelly Engelhart referred to as a “functional merger” of the two departments’ operations, effective through the remainder of 2013. A new agreement is anticipated to implement the consolidation of health departments for January 2014 and beyond.
The CPPH has also completed a “quick strike” evaluation of the impact on expenditures and services of 20 public health department consolidations occurring in Ohio since 2001. This project was a collaboration between the CPPH and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, under the Ohio Research Association for Public Health Improvement (RAPHI), which was organized by Case Western Reserve University. The project was underwritten by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted solely to the public’s health.
The study confirmed decreased expenditures in the years following consolidation. In addition, the evaluation found that transition processes during the first two years after consolidation can disrupt efforts to gain external revenues. Overall, leaders of consolidated health departments expressed the viewpoint that their consolidations led to improved public health services for their expanded jurisdictions.
The college has a new assignment to provide consulting and technical assistance to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in performing a comprehensive community health needs assessment (CHNA), a new requirement in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The assignment is being led by Willie H. Oglesby, Ph.D., assistant professor of Health Policy & Management, and Ken Slenkovich, assistant dean for operations and community relations. The overall goal is to help shape capacity for greater impact on community health, to make investments as efficient and effective as possible and to identify additional ways the hospital and other organizations can engage to solve community health problems. This project is an extension of the college’s ongoing multi-year assignment to perform a CHNA for the three Summit County hospital systems, including Akron Children’s Hospital.
The CPPH is assisting the Ohio Municipal Clerks Association in running its certification program this fall. The program includes a public health component and is a key step in enabling these professionals to be certified by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
The CPPH is headed by John Hoornbeek, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Policy & Management, and staffed by Joshua Filla, outreach program officer, as well as a cadre of affiliated faculty, students and external experts.