Mass towns work together to improve publichealth

When it comes to public health, not every town can do everything. So, the state, with help from researcher at BU, is in the midst of creating regional health systems. Starting in March, the DPH will hold hearing across the state to gain insight into the specific health issues in different parts of the state. Boston area meetings are scheduled for March 4. Click here for the full schedule.

Friday, March 4, 2011
10:00 AM -12:00 PM
Morse Institute Library,
14 E. Central Street, Natick

Friday, March 4, 2011
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Boston Public Health Commission
Carter Auditorium
35 Northampton Street, Boston

Here’s how the state spells out the problem.

  •  Of Massachusetts towns with less than 5,000 residents (there are 105), 78% have no full-time public health staff, 58% have no health inspector and 90% have no public health nurse. The staffing of the 71 towns between 5,000 and 10,000 residents is not much better.
  •   Over 70% of local health officials report they do not have enough staff to consistently fulfill their responsibilities to the public.3 Further, according to a 2004 MDPH statewide needs assessment of local health boards and departments, nearly all responding communities reported they found it challenging to prevent chronic and infectious disease and injuries (98%), ensure a competent public health care workforce (97%) and apply basic environmental public health regulations (89%).
  •   That same assessment found major regional disparities in public health system capacity–22% of western MA communities had no public health director/agent, compared to 3% for metro Boston; 17% of western MA communities did not  keep records of reportable diseases, compared to 1.6% for metro Boston.
  •   According to the Trust for America’s Health, Massachusetts scored 6 out of 10 onvarious measures of Emergency Preparedness in 2008, which ranks the Commonwealth 37th in the nation• That same study ranks the Bay State 9th worst with regard to 2010 public health nursing  shortage estimates.

 Here’s how BU puts it:

 The Need

Massachusetts has over 300 Local Boards of Health, many of which are chronically underfunded and not able to maintain the 10 essential services of public health departments, putting their communities at risk.
Click here to learn more about the
BU program.

Why Regional Public Health Agreements?

Regional public health cooperation agreements:

  •  Facilitate creative resource sharing among municipalities.
  • Augment rather than reduce the existing public health workforce.
  • Respect existing local legal health authority.
  • Are supported by a voluntary initiatives.



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