Genesee and Orleans County Health Services (GO Health) are celebrating 10 years of working together under their cross-jurisdictional shared services agreement. This initiative was the first of its kind in New York State and is at the forefront of providing best practices to local governments looking to become more efficient through service sharing.
Shared Services began as a two-year PILOT project and was part of a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that helped establish the Public Health Services Sharing Center (www.phsharing.org). After the first two years, the benefits, both fiscal and operational, have resulted in an ongoing agreement between Genesee and Orleans counties to continue sharing public health services.
“The Genesee County Legislature viewed this collaboration as an opportunity for our residents to be served by high-quality staff, which is critical to improving the quality of healthy living in Genesee and Orleans counties. said Genesee County Legislative Chairman Shelley Stein. “Since beginning this endeavor, both counties have made significant progress and now have shared services with the Youth Bureau and Weights and Measures. These shared services reduce local taxes and reduce government costs. Plus, across New York State, our best practices and case studies have been studied by other counties looking to reduce costs for their residents.
“The inter-jurisdictional collaboration to create the Genesee and Orleans County Shared Health Departments, now known as GO Health, was a transformative idea of two legislative bodies,” said County Legislative Chairman Lynne Johnson. from Orleans. “This would not have been achieved without the confidence we had in Director of Public Health Paul Pettit to lead the initiative.”
Support and technical assistance from the Public Health Services Sharing Center for our integrated health services helped identify value for our leaders and provided the financial support to launch the collaboration. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has also added its support for the Resource Pooling Pilot Project, which benefits residents of both our counties and is key to our continued success.
Working together has helped fill labor gaps, provide natural layoffs, and attract additional candidates for vacant positions. Public health staff from both counties became more creative and worked together on several joint projects, including but not limited to a joint strategic plan, workforce development plan, quality improvement, branding and communication, and working on a joint application. to become nationally accredited through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) as GO Health.
This collaboration has also seen an increase in the services we are able to offer our residents due to the ability to be more competitive with grant applications with a combined population of nearly 100,000 residents. GO Health has been very successful in applying for and receiving approximately $7,500,000 in grants since we began joint applications 10 years ago. These funds have helped reduce county costs while improving services to county residents. GO Health has further regionalized service delivery and is also a recipient of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant and the Lead Poisoning Prevention and Remediation grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Wyoming and Livingston counties (GLOW region). These lead grants will help residents reduce lead poisoning and address hazards in their homes. GO Health also benefited from three fellows from the CDC’s Public Health Associates Program who spend a two-year assignment working in both counties at little cost to the counties.
“Seeing everything we’ve accomplished over the past 10 years shows that our original goals were on target,” said Paul Pettit, director of public health for GO Health. “We continue to seek innovative ways to advance our collaboration, increase efficiency and be fiscally responsible. Where we are today with our integrated operations is a testament to the buy-in and hard work of our county administration, the GO Health leadership team and all public health staff. Staff have been instrumental in the success of our work because they work as a team, share ideas, deliver services and promote health as a cohesive unit.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has put our integrated departments to the test. The ability to work together by sharing employees has helped balance surges over the past two years and was essential to meet the needs of contact tracing, COVID-19 testing and possibly vaccinations in both counties. One of the most effective benefits of our shared response was the public communications and messaging that allowed us to reduce redundancy and leverage staff to disseminate information on our shared media.
“We recognize our public health staff for their hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic and over the past 10 years,” Ms Johnson said. “We can’t wait to see what they can accomplish in the years to come.”
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been able to volunteer at clinics and see firsthand how caring and committed our health department staff are,” Stein said. “Watching people become highly functional teams with one goal: to serve and care for the health and recovery of our residents. I am impressed with the dedication to public service that was very evident in every member of GO Health every day. They are a real gift for our communities. The GO Health partnership gives us the opportunity for healthcare specialists here at home to be comparable to urban counties. I am grateful to know them. Our shining stars!
“Looking forward, we expect to see GO Health continue to mature and provide additional cost savings and better service delivery to our residents,” Mr. Pettit said, “GO Health is poised to become a service nationally-accredited health care provider, which is scheduled for mid-2023. GO Health will continue to integrate and serve as the chief health strategists in our communities. We look forward to serving both counties as GO Health-onward.
Photo: 2019 file photo of Howard Owens at a Genesee County Social Services meeting. Pettit was director of public health in Orleans County prior to the signing of the shared services agreement and has been director of GO Health since the agreement.