Three health departments build capacity by leveraging partners and existing datasets.

Author:Booth, Darryl
Position:BUILDING CAPACITY - Environmental health services in San Bernardino and Sacramento, California; and Evanston, Illinois - Column

Editor's Note: A need exists within environmental health agencies to increase their capacity to perform in an environment of diminishing resources. With limited resources and increasing demands, we need to seek new approaches to the business of environmental health.

Acutely aware of these challenges, NEHA has initiated a partnership with Accela (formerly Decade Software Company) called Building Capacity. Building Capacity is a joint effort to educate, reinforce, and build upon successes within the profession, using technology to improve efficiency and extend the impact of environmental health agencies.

The Journal is pleased to publish this bimonthly column from Accela that will provide readers with insight into the Building Capacity initiative, as well as be a conduit for fostering the capacity building of environmental health agencies across the country.

The conclusions of this column are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of NEHA.

Darryl Booth is senior vice president and general manager of environmental health at Accela and has been monitoring regulatory and data tracking needs of agencies across the U.S. for almost 20 years. He serves as technical advisor to NEHA's informatics and technology section.

I'd like to take this opportunity to laud three health departments leveraging data, technology, and their partners across the profession to build capacity.

Mutual Aid Agreements Help San Bernardino, California, Rebuild Capacity

As much as we may try, we are rarely ever completely prepared for disruptive, business altering events. Staff may leave for illness, accidents, pregnancy, vacation--these are events that can be managed. But what about the unknowable, the unthinkable? We are all aware of the violent events that took place in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015. Roughly 35% of San Bernardino's environmental health services staff were injured or killed that day, leaving critical positions empty and domain knowledge lost. Those not injured were impacted in other ways. As of May 2016, nearly 50% of the staff are not yet back to work or working full time.

San Bernardino is utilizing mutual aid agreements with neighboring counties. About 27 people are on loan from Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Marin, Ventura, Madera, and San Luis Obispo counties, says Corwin Porter, assistant director for San Bernardino's Department of Public Health. The fact that all these agencies use the same data management...

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