Community Mobilization for Better Health in Rural Oklahoma
The quality improvement (QI) project in Okfuskee County started as a means to prepare for Public Health Accreditation by completing a Community Health Assessment (CHA), working toward a Strategic Plan and learning the basic tools and techniques of QI. The Core QI Team chose the Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Framework in order to complete the community health assessment. As this assessment process continued, it became clear that one of the main goals of the project would be to mobilize the community around health improvement planning and engage stakeholders in identifying, prioritizing, and working together to solve the health issues of the community.
Community Engagement proved to be one of the strongest aspects of the QI project, and the number of people from diverse sectors of the community and areas of the county who were willing to be involved made the process very rich and meaningful. The goal set by the QI team was to engage at least 10 community partners from diverse sectors of the community. This goal was far surpassed by engaging 37 community partners from various sectors and multiple towns throughout the county. Although it is not part of the original AIM, the increase of sector representation at meetings is also significant, because this was increased from 4 to 13.
Diverse representation from sectors (businesses, tribal partners, elected officials, law enforcement, health care, social services, faith-based partners, parents/grandparents, education) and good representation from the communities located throughout Okfuskee County ensured that many different perspectives were considered and that a balanced approach was taken in attempting to address the needs of the county and communities and that everyone had ownership in the creation of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).
The process of coming together to assess strategically the community’s health has impacted other areas in the community and within the health department. Health department staff now have a much better understanding of the community they serve: the demographics, health conditions, social issues, and how all of these impact the work we do as a local health department. The assessment process has strengthened partnerships throughout the county and helped to create new partnerships. Health department staff are called on as experts for sources of health data when other groups are completing grant proposals. When community assessments are being conducted by other groups within the county, the health department is asked to participate and contribute to the conversation, thus making health a topic that is interwoven throughout programs and policy. Health department staff are now more visible and seen as a force of change within the community.
Johnson, T. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Community Mobilization for Better Health in Rural Oklahoma. Thu, 12/06/2012 - 15:15. Available at http://phqix.org/content/community-mobilization-better-health-rural-oklahoma. Accessed March 7, 2021.