Groundbreaking Community Health Partnership for LI Launched
Hospitals and both county health departments spearheading this innovative effort
January 13, 2014 (Hauppauge, NY) - On Friday, January 10, 2014, public health leaders and health care providers from the region gathered at the offices of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council in Hauppauge to witness the launch of an historic community health initiative known as the Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC). The Long Island Health Collaborative is a bi-county effort to help Long Islanders improve their health. A key component of LIHC’s work is a comprehensive website that connects Long Islanders to the health and social services they need to stay well or get well.
Dr. Howard Zucker, the First Deputy Commissioner of Health for the State of New York, “flipped the switch” and officially launched the LIHC and its website at Friday’s event. NSHC is the agency that represents Long Islands’ hospitals and is the coordinating entity for LIHC. Dr. Zucker noted that this ground-breaking endeavor is exactly what the state health department is calling for in its effort to promote population health and integrated, coordinated health care services throughout New York’s local communities.
Health commissioners for both Nassau and Suffolk counties - Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein and Dr. James Tomarken respectively – echoed Dr. Zucker’s comments. They agreed that the prevalence of chronic disease is widespread in both counties and a bi-county initiative like LIHC will help raise awareness and connect Long Islanders to the appropriate care and services.
The Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC) is comprised of all Long Island’s hospitals, the Nassau and Suffolk County Health Departments, dozens of community-based organizations, and academic institutions. These partners joined together in early 2013 to combine their expertise in a streamlined and cooperative effort to reach all Long Islanders and help them achieve improved health. The website is a component of their work. The user-friendly site provides Long Islanders with comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention information at their fingertips. It’s a portal connecting Long Islanders to clinical and social service supports that will get them well or keep them well.
The LIHC is one of the few collaborative groups in the state of New York featuring a partnership between two neighboring counties and is the first time that Nassau and Suffolk counties are partnering in such a comprehensive way. Public health and public affairs experts from the region’s hospitals, as well as health department leaders and representatives from social service organizations and public health specialists from colleges, comprise the collaborative.
“Health care is a reactive industry, we respond to patients’ needs when they are sick and injured,” said Kevin Dahill, president/CEO of the NSHC. “What is invigorating about this effort is that it is proactive.”
The group initially formed in February 2013 in response to enhanced state and federal government regulations that require all health care providers, local health departments, and community-based service organizations to work together to assure and improve health in communities they serve. It has now moved beyond these mandates and stands as a fully integrated model of health and social service for all of Long Island’s communities. More specifically, the state’s Prevention Agenda 2013 – 2017 mandate asked local county health departments, hospitals, community-based organizations, schools and other regional partners to join together to address unmet health needs in communities. LIHC performed that task in early 2013 and uncovered unmet needs in the areas of chronic disease prevention and management, especially related to obesity, as well as a great need for more mental health/substance abuse prevention and treatment services. As a result, LIHC’s efforts will focus on these priorities.
LIHC’s ultimate goal is the management of population health, which is really the steadfast coordination and integration of all clinical and social services that assist each and every Long Islander in becoming well and/or staying well. Health care providers - hospitals, doctors, laboratory service providers, nutritionists and social service providers of all types - work together to provide coordinated health care. The website – http://nshc.org/long-island-healthcollaborative/ - is just the first step in achieving this goal. A bi-county walk effort to promote physical activity and that will reveal broad data about health and habits of Long Islanders is also planned, along with health and built-environment policy changes at the local level.
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