Mobilizing Unlikely Partners Bridges Connections and Brings Change
By Robin Iszler, RN, and Tami Dillman, MBA
Central Valley Health District’s (CVHD) greatest improvement since receiving accreditation status has been the ability to convene community partners to bring about change (Domain 4). The accreditation journey started for CVHD back in 2010 when we were chosen as a beta test site for PHAB. In 2016 CVHD became the first health department in North Dakota to achieve accreditation through PHAB.
Assuring that adequate financial resources are available to allow staff to attend multiple community engagement meetings, CVHD has been mobilizing community partners to accomplish the goals of the community health improvement plan. These meetings feature a variety of topics such as behavioral health, substance use, vulnerable adults, emergency management, homelessness and human trafficking,to name a few. By participating, and many times convening, meetings, CVHD helps to bridge connections with various agencies that are working on similar projects, which leads to reduced inefficacies.
In September 2018, CVHD and the City of Jamestown proudly accepted the Mobilizer Award from North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. Jamestown was selected because of the work done by Central Valley Health District in bringing together unlikely partners such as leaders from tourism, police, fire, public schools, Two Rivers Activity Center and the city administration to improve active transportation opportunities.
Central Valley Health District coordinated three projects to help Jamestown improve active transportation opportunities:
— Get Fit & Explore initiative: a 1.5 mile walking route in downtown Jamestown.
— Talking Trail: incorporates historic information into an interactive learning opportunity and includes the Get Fit & Explore trail
— Safe Routes to Schools: a project that provided for the construction of sidewalks for safely accessing Jamestown High School, Two Rivers Activity Center. and Gusiner Elementary School. The Safe Routes to Schools project provided 81% of the students in Jamestown the ability to walk and/or bike in a safe and healthy manner
Partnerships between the local public health department, tourism, police, and fire may appear to be an unlikely match, and sometimes it takes multiple meetings to determine if we are even on the same mission. However, because of CVHD’s commitment to bringing various agencies to the table, we are now recognized as a leader when emerging issues arise. The opportunity to collaborate and join together similar projects is one way a community can capitalize on limited funding sources in order to accomplish change. This was strongly evidenced when CVHD worked on the Talking Trail project. This project mainly involved the tourism agency whose goal was to attract more visitors to the city, however with a slight modification and encouragement from CVHD, the Talking Trail was able to incorporate the Get Fit & Explore route, which is more suited to local citizens. Central Valley received a small grant from Everybody Walks, which has helped to purchase signs to establish the Get Fit and Explore route in downtown Jamestown.
Accreditation helped CVHD understand its role in community partnership development and opened the door to establishing CVHD as a community leader in population health improvement.
Central Valley Health District in Jamestown, North Dakota, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on August 4, 2015.
About the authors: Robin Iszler, RN, Unit Administrator, and Tami Dillman, MBA, Finance Director,are employed at Central Valley Health District in Jamestown, North Dakota. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected].
Other benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
Accreditation brought a new way of thinking about public health and what it means for the community.