• LEADing together: Partnerships for a healthier DeKalb

      Hermstad, April; Gathings, MJ; Isher-Witt, Jen; Arriaga, Felicia; Robinson, Corre; Dekalb County Board of Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
      Background: In 2014, the DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBOH) received a three-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant to work with community partners to address health disparities among African Americans in DeKalb County. The project, called Local Efforts toward Addressing Disparities in DeKalb (LEAD DeKalb), relies on a network of partnerships to implement community-based interventions that promote healthy eating and physical activity among African Americans throughout low-income parts of DeKalb County. Methods: The evaluation team developed an online survey to assess LEAD DeKalb staff and partner satisfaction with the partnerships created and the work completed through LEAD DeKalb thus far (n=20, response rate of 71.4%). The 20-question survey was adapted primarily from two sources: the Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory and the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool. Data analysis was limited to basic descriptive information such as frequencies, percentages, and averages, with comparisons made between DCBOH staff and partners. Results: Partners reported that their organization benefits from being involved in the partnership and attributed a variety of factors to the success of the partnership, including: bringing together diverse stakeholders; exchanging information/knowledge; sharing resources; and developing a shared mission and goals. Identifying new partners and developing a sustainability plan that includes funding, community support, and strong partnerships were identified as areas for improvement. Relevant qualitative findings from key informant interviews were also presented. Conclusions: Two main themes emerged from the data: (1) the network of partnerships is valuable and strong, but may benefit from new partners, and (2) resources (especially funding) are critical for implementing and sustaining the work of the partnership. Taken together, these findings suggest that partnerships are best conceptualized as ongoing processes rather than tasks to complete; and expanding social networks and learning communities allows partners to leverage social, human, and financial capital well beyond the grant period.
    • Leveraging partnerships in order to increase notifiable disease reporting

      Dekalb County Board of Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
      Background: Notifiable disease reporting, although required by law, does not always occur. For this reason, it is crucial for local public health agencies to leverage new partnerships for reporting of notifiable diseases. Schools represent sites within communities that experience relatively high numbers of cases of notifiable disease and clusters of illness. By leveraging partnerships with schools, an increase in disease reporting can occur within communities. Methods: DeKalb County Board of Health has developed an infectious disease protocol for the two major school systems in the county and one large private school: DeKalb County School District, City Schools of Decatur and the Waldorf School of Atlanta. This protocol was developed to outline each party’s responsibilities regarding disease reporting, surveillance and infection control within the schools. This protocol template was then used to develop an infectious disease protocol in partnership with two county school districts and a university within the North Central Health District and in a private school system in the DeKalb Health District. Results: Through education of notifiable disease reporting, the health district developed and implemented two protocols and has three pending protocols with schools. This has improved the relationships between the health district and the school systems through better communication and surveillance within the schools. Conclusions: Response to public health situations requires coordination across multiple sectors and effective use of existing resources within communities. It is essential for local public health agencies to build innovative partnerships that can then form the foundations for an increase in notifiable disease reporting and disease surveillance.