The mission of Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is to improve the health status of our communities. Community Health Improvement (CHI) is the department that works to improve community health by developing collaborative relationships. CHI works both externally with community organizations and internally with clinical service departments at CHA. External partners include community coalitions, non-profit agencies and city departments, including public health departments.
Community Health Improvement provides a broad array of community health programs targeting populations at risk for health care disparities. These groups low-income, immigrants, cultural or linguistic minorities, and people marginalized because of homelessness or behavioral health disorders.CHI staff work to educate these groups about available services, reduce barriers to accessing care, create links to appropriate health care services and provide culturally appropriate, accessible, and engaging education about preventive care and healthy lifestyles.
The core responsibilities of Community Health Improvement are to:
- Ensure that all community members are able to enter and navigate the health care system and utilize its resources to improve their health.
- Develop and implement health promotion programs and clinical services for individuals who find it difficult to access care that is responsive to their needs.
- Create and support coalitions to build capacity to address critical community health issues.
- Work to ensure that CHA systems meet identified community needs and build on community strengths.
- Advocate to impact government policy at the local, state and federal level.
Community Health Improvement uses the following public health principles to deliver effective clinical services, outreach strategies, and community-wide interventions:
- Utilize data and community engagement strategies to accurately define and know our diverse communities, their strengths, barriers, challenges, and opportunities.
- Work collaboratively with partners to understand a given problem, develop and implement strategies to address it and evaluate results.
- Develop systems to provide timely, accurate data at all stages of the health improvement process.
- Create public marketing messages and strategies to promote positive health outcomes.
CHA has a governance structure that incorporates community guidance into its community and public health work. Both committees are chaired by Dr. Deborah Klein Walker, member of the CHA Board of Trustees.
The Committee for Community and Public Health (CCPH) provides leadership to the CHA Board of Trustees community and public health issues in fulfillment of CHA’s mission to improve the health if its communities. The CCPH oversees CHA’s community and public health work, including setting priorities and scope and reporting on progress of targeted indicators.
The Community Health Advisory Council (CHAC) provides input and recommendations to the CCPH. It assesses current community health gaps and needs, identifies community and public health priorities across CHA service areas, and helps develop strategies for community health improvement. CHAC members are widely representative of CHA's community partner’s meets bi-monthly September-May.
Both of these groups recommend and assist with strategies to garner community input and engagement. A primary goal both groups is to build community capacity and leadership in community and public health in collaboration with CHA’s strong network of community partners.