Group of people at Public Health Meeting including SENCRHC partners

About the Southeastern North Carolina

REGIONAL HEALTH COLLABORATIVE

The SENCRHC development was initiated in February, 2013 at a luncheon hosted by the CHHS for the health directors of Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender Counties and the Chief Executive Officer of the SEAHEC to explore the interest in developing a regional collaborative.   While not inclusive of the entire health system, the County Public Health Departments and the Health Directors represent a starting place for partnership development.  The participants were unanimously positive and supportive of moving forward to explore the development of a formal partnership – a collaborative - that could enhance the health and quality of life of individuals, families and communities in the southeastern region of North Carolina.  Our mantra has become “working across county lines to enhance health and life quality in Southeastern North Carolina.” 

It has become increasingly apparent that effective primary, secondary and tertiary prevention must focus on what has become known as the social determinants of health.  Social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions – and their distribution among the population – that influence individual and group differences in health status.   We have come to understand how where we live impacts our lifelong health.  It is also clear that neighborhoods and communities are not discrete entities, but exist within a larger geographic context known as regional contexts.   These regional contexts are predicted to guide decisions about transportation systems, park systems, air and water safety, health care systems and other systems that directly impact our ability to make healthy choices in the future. To date, many individual communities have created wellness and prevention efforts that support health promoting environments, but most of these stop at the county boundaries.  We are proposing to positively impact the health and life quality of the residents of southeastern North Carolina through the development of a regional collaborative.    

An additional step in the development of the SENCRHC occurred in April 2013.   CHHS hosted a day-long symposium entitled “Developing a Coastal Regional Health Collaborative.”  The participants included the leadership teams of the five county health departments, SEAHEC and CHHS.  The symposium provided an opportunity to further the development of the Collaborative.  Dr. Laura Gerald, NC State Health Director, provided an excellent keynote address highlighting the need to collaborate across county lines to enhance public health in southeastern North Carolina.  Following the address, each county health department and SEAHEC presented successful programs that have demonstrated positive return on investment.  The presentations were followed by a planning session in which Dr. Kate Kraft, a nationally- known consultant, introduced the collective impact framework and explored how we might employ this framework as our roadmap in developing a regional health collaborative.  The consensus of the attendees was to continue the development of the partnership and for CHHS to assume the role of organizing structure.  The participants also endorsed the Collective Impact model for the development of the SENCRHC, the development of a Center for Healthy Communities to become the backbone organization of the SENCRHC and requested that CHHS seek external funding to support these components.  To date, the CHHS, under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Smith, Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Impact, has assumed the role of the organizing structure for the development of the SENCRHC.  In addition to the support provided by CHHS UNCW and the five county agencies, we are now seeking start-up funding to further the development of the SENCRHC.  

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