Health Division garners three national awards

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is shining a spotlight on three Oakland County Health Division initiatives, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced last week. Under its Model Practices Program, NACCHO conferred awards upon the Health Division's Homeless Healthcare Collaboration, Closed POD Planning Toolkit for Special Populations, and Public Health Nursing and Substance Abuse Services Team.

"Once again, Oakland County Health Division is a national leader in public health thanks to the excellence of our staff," Patterson said. "The solutions they find to improve the health and quality of life of our residents are models for others around the nation."

The Homeless Healthcare Collaboration was selected as a Model Practice, meaning it is an innovative best practice that will be shared across the nation as an effective program with positive results. The Closed POD Planning Toolkit for Special Populations and Public Health Nursing and Substance Abuse Services Team were selected as Promising Practices. The selection as a Promising Practice indicates that the program exhibits the potential for becoming a future Model Practice.

"The key to the success of our health programs is community collaboration and innovation," said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. "The selection of these programs as model and promising practices means that we demonstrate exemplary qualities that can be replicated."

The purpose of the Homeless Healthcare Collaboration, which Patterson highlighted in his 2014 State of the County address, is to identify available resources, gaps in services and barriers experienced by both individuals who are homeless and those who provide services to them. The Health Division has engaged representatives from local agencies, healthcare providers and others which provide resources and services to homeless and vulnerable populations to tackle issues surrounding delivery of healthcare to the homeless.

There are 57 organizations involved in this initiative. They convene on a regular basis providing presentations by member agencies to educate partners regarding services available to their clients. The Health Division sponsors a secure web-based portal that serves as a focal point for members to post information, ask questions, and share resources. A subcommittee, which includes representatives of local hospitals, is addressing the unique issues surrounding hospitalization and discharge planning for clients who are homeless.

The Prior Authorization Central Evaluation (PACE) program at the Health Division's Office of Substance Abuse Services serves as the access point for publically-funded substance abuse treatment. PACE's primary goal is to address a client's readiness for change then screen, authorize service, and refer them to appropriate treatment services. Over the years, the PACE Care Manager Staff has learned that individuals living with addiction often have chronic health issues too. The Health Division recognized that incorporating a public health nurse into the PACE program was the best solution to improving client health. The public health nurse assesses and educates clients about chronic health issues, risk reduction strategies, access to health care and activities to prevent illness. Helping clients manage or eliminate chronic health problems helps them to reach their recovery goals.

The Health Division has developed a toolkit and process for use by its partner businesses to help reach the national goal for vaccinating the 1.2 million residents of Oakland County within 48 hours in the event of a bioterrorism incident. By using the toolkit, agencies are able to complete a Closed Point of Distribution (POD) Plan within 30 days. The toolkit was developed in partnership with five long-term care facilities and one community mental health provider. Their plans were tested in July 2012 during a functional Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) exercise.

After the exercise, the Closed POD Toolkit was further simplified to meet the needs of all partners, from small local municipalities to large private businesses. To date, 14 target facilities have completed plans, while five more are working to finalize their plans. These partnerships have given the county greater capacity to serve the vulnerable and at-risk populations. By utilizing this toolkit, organizations are able to quickly and efficiently develop Closed POD plans that will provide life-saving medications to their employees and residents who might not be capable of attending larger, crowded Open Dispensing Sites.

For additional information about Oakland County Health Division programs and services, visit or dial the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533. Up-to-date public health information is also available on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.

Published: Wed, Apr 16, 2014