Rural local health departments are charged with protecting and promoting the health of their communities. However, these health departments often face challenges, including limited resources and capacity as well as changing laws and policies. As a result, rural local health departments are often asked to “do more with less.”
A new report, published by the Public Health Accreditation Board Center for Innovation, addresses overcoming some of these common barriers faced by rural local health departments. The report was developed by Wyatt J. Beckman at the Kansas Health Institute and Haleigh Leslie, Christen Minnick, Olivia Sulivan and Nneoma Ubah at the Center for Rural Health Research at East Tennessee State University.
The report examines how service and resource sharing arrangements (SRSAs) can maximize limited resources, allowing local public health departments to operate more effectively and efficiently in all communities, including those in rural areas. SRSAs occur when local health departments and their partners share staff, expertise, funds and programs across their respective boundaries, including population served, service area, district or governmental jurisdictions.
“SRSAs are a powerful tool public health leaders can utilize to advance the health of rural communities,” said Beckman.
Through SRSAs, rural local health departments can enhance the quality of existing services or increase capacity by maximizing the value of each dollar invested in delivering public health services. SRSAs enable rural local health departments and their partners to offer programs that otherwise would not be feasible, including those that advance health equity and improve access to and delivery of public health services in the community.
Read the full report.