Listening to public health community partners and learning about their challenges and successes are important to PHF. To that end, three PHF staff, Deborah Alexander, Julia Gray and Lynne Stauff, recently shadowed Dr. Ulder Tillman, Public Heath Officer at Montgomery County Public Health Services in order to learn more about the important work that her department is accomplishing for public health in Maryland.
The PHF team learned that Montgomery County has a population of nearly one million and just became a minority dominated county with 50.7% of residents identifying as non-white (2010 United States Census). The Public Health Services (PHS) is one of thirteen service areas within the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Tillman oversees the PHS area with an annual budget of $70 million and 500 employees. The PHS area includes: cancer screening and prevention of tobacco use, communicable diseases and epidemiology, community health services, emergency preparedness, health promotion and substance abuse services, licensure and regulatory services, Montgomery Cares health program, partnerships, and health planning and school health services.
(Deborah Alexander, Julia Gray, Dr. Tillman and Lynne Stauff)
During their visit to the Montgomery County health department, PHF employees learned of the successes and challenges facing the county. Some challenges are budget cuts, juggling competing priorities, and dealing with ongoing or emerging public health threats such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza. Despite these challenges, Montgomery County is experiencing successes and has reason to be proud. They recently launched Healthy Montgomery, initiated through the Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP) which began in 2009. The Healthy Montgomery
website is intended to be a place where community members and policy makers can learn about the overall health of the residents in Montgomery County. The website is dedicated to providing local health data, the Healthy People 2020 health indicator tracker, promising best practices, news articles, local health resources, and community events. The Healthy Montgomery site is a collaboration of public/private sponsors such as five area hospitals, Kaiser Permanente, the Urban Institute, and other key community stakeholders.
We thank Dr. Tillman and her staff for taking time from their busy morning so that we could learn of the challenges facing local public health and how they are meeting these challenges.
Use of data for informed decision-making and tracking progress is important to Montgomery County, as it is to PHF. The Community Health Status Indications
site can help increase community dialogue and target interventions to ultimately improve health outcomes. PHF has many more resources and tools
available to manage performance and improve the quality of your process, programs or practices.
PHF would like to continue learning about the successes and challenges facing other health departments across the United States. Please leave a comment about this news item or contact us here to share your story.