The local health department (LHD) workforce is the backbone of the nation’s public health infrastructure. While healthcare issues have historically overshadowed the public health tenets of prevention and population health, LHD leaders and staff are truly on the front lines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and safe. Despite its critical importance, the LHD workforce is facing numerous challenges that the nation must confront to ensure the health and well-being of our communities. Continue reading
Interview by Lindsay Tiffany, Lead of Publications, NACCHO
Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, is Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge Public Health Department (MA) and the 2016–2017 NACCHO President. Jacob is a long-standing and dedicated member of NACCHO and has served on a variety of different advisory groups including the Annual Conference Workgroup, the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee, the Survive and Thrive Workgroup, and the Finance Committee. He has served on NACCHO’s Board of Directors since 2010. He recently spoke to NACCHO Voice about his perspective on the Community Chief Health Strategist framework.
- What does the concept of the Community Chief Health Strategist mean to you and how do you and your colleagues serve in this role in your community? How can other local health departments operationalize this framework?
Building a culture of health in Cambridge has been part of a major health improvement initiative led by the Cambridge Public Health Department. The concept of the community chief health strategist has been actualized through the development of the city’s health agenda. In 2014, our department completed a comprehensive health assessment and engaged city and community partners in developing the city’s first-ever community health improvement plan. What we learned through the process is that we have convening power—the ability (and the space in which) to bring partners to the table to look at our community’s health needs. We conducted a citywide survey, held focus groups with various demographic groups, and interviewed key stakeholders and representatives of the city’s leadership. Then, by consensus we agreed on the priority areas for the city through 2020, which include mental health and substance abuse, violence, housing, and healthy eating/active living. Continue reading
Our nation’s resilience—how we collectively adapt in the face of adversity—often depends on the strength of individual communities and their ability to respond to and recover from emergencies. Public health preparedness, one of NACCHO’s signature program areas, is a year-round priority. NACCHO’s Preparedness staff collectively provide local health departments (LHDs) and their emergency management partners with resources, tools, and support to ensure their jurisdictions are protected against any risk to community health or safety. Continue reading
The burden of cardiovascular disease poses significant risk to the health and well-being of our communities. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. According to the CDC, approximately 610,000 Americans die from heart disease—one in every four deaths. Someone dies from a heart disease-related event every minute in the United States.1 These statistics have dire consequences for the quality of life and vitality of our populations. Our nation also experiences these consequences economically: Heart disease costs the United States about $207 billion each year in healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity.1 Continue reading
In 2011, the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) launched its voluntary national accreditation program for public health departments with the goal of improving and protecting the public’s health by advancing performance improvement. PHAB accreditation seeks to continuously improve the quality of local health department (LHD) performance. To achieve accreditation through PHAB, LHDs must demonstrate conformity to PHAB’s Standards and Measures, a document that outlines the standards, measures, and documentation required to achieve accreditation, such as the completion of a community health assessment, community health improvement plan, and strategic plan. The program has improved local public health practice and strengthened a culture of quality improvement in LHDs. To date, 141 LHDs have achieved PHAB accreditation. Continue reading
On July 1, Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department, became NACCHO’s President. Jacob is a long-standing and dedicated member of NACCHO and has served on a variety of different advisory groups including the Annual Conference Workgroup, the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee, the Survive and Thrive Workgroup, and the Finance Committee. He has served on NACCHO’s Board of Directors since 2010. He recently spoke to NACCHO Voice about his career path, the challenges his health department is currently facing, the priorities for his Presidency, and his advice for those just starting their careers in local public health.
- Tell us about your career path in public health and how you got to where you are today.
I am the local health officer here in Cambridge, MA, and have served in this capacity since April 2007. We are a medium-sized local health department with a jurisdiction of about 110,000 residents. The geography of Cambridge is very small—it’s only six and a half square miles. By scale, we’re the second largest health department in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the most decentralized public health system in the nation, with over 300 local health departments covering a population of 6.6 million residents.