Study of Potential Collaboration in Portage Gains Momentum

Milestones are being reached in the college’s projects to assist three health departments in Portage County consider new models of working together.
Ravenna and Kent, along with the Portage County Health Department, are examining cross-jurisdictional sharing arrangements to enable greater protection and promotion of public health.  This initiative has received $125,000 in support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as one of 16 sites nationwide in a study about cooperative methods of sharing public health services across boundaries.
In addition, the college is assisting the Ravenna and Portage County health departments in their 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 is underwriting the effort.  Work over the past several months has involved analyses and briefings to aid elected officials in decision-making and research on the projected costs of certification by the Public Health Accreditation Board.
Both projects are being conducted under the auspices of the Center for Public Policy and Health, led by John Hoornbeek, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Policy & Management, who is directing the Portage County projects.
Nine representatives of RWJF and its projects similar to the local one paid a three-day visit in early December.  Project sponsors and health officials from Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania and Washington checked on the project’s status and shared insights and alternative perspectives with their local counterparts.
“They offered very good feedback to our group and learned about what’s going on here,” observes Hoornbeek.  “The visit was helpful from the standpoint of educating the project sponsors regarding how it is moving, and it was useful for those from Portage County to learn of similar efforts taking place elsewhere,” he adds.  “The major purpose of the visits is learning and information exchange.”
Cross-jurisdictional sharing could permit health departments to split the cost of programs and services, such as immunizations, health education and disaster preparedness and response.  Two work groups, tackling strategy and the evaluation of existing collaborations, have presented reports to the health departments of the three jurisdictions, which are presently considering the recommendations.  An education work group is now getting under way.