NMPHA Health Officers Hoist MDHHS Directors Award

New National Program Measures Public Health Efficiency Through Collaboration

The Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance has received the coveted Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director’s Award for Excellence in Local Public Health. The award was presented Oct. 7 during Michigan’s Premier Public Health Conference at Crystal Mountain.

The Director’s Award is presented annually by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to local health departments that contribute to a positive outcome in the health status of community residents, demonstrate a spirit of resource sharing and integration, ensure the effectiveness of processes and programs, demonstrate an innovative public health initiative and are replicable in other communities.

“It is an honor for our work to be recognized,” said Linda Yaroch, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan and Chair of the Alliance Steering Committee.

Members of the Alliance include Benzie Leelanau District Health Department, District Health Department 2, District Health Department 4, District Health Department 10, Grand Traverse County Health Department, Health Department of Northwest Michigan, McLaren Northern Michigan, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Munson Healthcare, Northern Health Plan, TENCON Health Plan, and the Center for Public Health Practice and Network for Public Health Law at the University of Michigan.

The Alliance is the culmination of a two-year exploration of potential shared services across a 25-county region of Northern Michigan, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In the 12 months since it was organized, its members have launched several initiatives to address pressing needs in the community.

“We’ve shown it makes good sense for health departments, hospitals and other community partners to work together,” said Yaroch.

“We’ve raised more than $2 million in grants so far this year by using a regional approach to increase access to health care, including behavioral health services, prevent chronic disease, and prevent and treat substance abuse and tobacco use in Northern Michigan.”

Information technology is a top priority among the Alliance’s health departments.

“There are many efficiencies to be achieved in collaborating on purchasing hardware and utilizing common software,” Yaroch said.

“These systems provide the foundation for improving patient outcomes and patient experience within the health care system. Real time data will considerably enhance community health assessment too.