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KHI Grant To Explore Efficiencies In Public Health

The Topeka-based Kansas Health Institute has received a half-million dollar grant for its efforts to help public health departments find ways to work together.

The grant is from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest health philanthropy. They chose the Kansas Health Institute in 2012 to establish the national Center for Sharing Public Health Services. Epidemiologist Gianfranco Pezzino is in charge of the center. He says sharing management, staff, and purchasing services may help county health departments—especially smaller ones—do more with the limited funding they have.

“These days there is more and more pressure for health departments to deliver better services, to deliver a broader gamut of services, to monitor the quality of those services, and to do that with less and less resources,” Pezzino says.

Pezzino says a new survey of health departments in Kansas finds that 73 per cent of them are already sharing to some extent. He warns, though, that sharing cannot compensate for inadequate funding, and he thinks public health funding in Kansas is inadequate. He also warns against top-down approaches, like forcing county health departments to consolidate.