The Crucial Intersection of Public Health and Clinical Care
COVID testing. Vaccines. Health equity. Do they fall under public health or clinical care? In most cases, it’s both, or should be.
The gap between hospital-based clinical care and public health is shrinking, as community health initiatives increasingly focus on wellness and prevention. Health systems typically function as separate entities. Nationwide, the drive for revenues and market share fuels fierce competition among hospitals — but not in King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, and serves a population of nearly two and a half million people.
The King County Hospitals for a Healthier Community (HHC) collaborative brings together 10 hospitals and health care systems, as well as the regional public health department, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
“The uniqueness of this collaborative is that instead of competing, like most specialty acute and tertiary care hospitals do, we’re looking at the landscape of the region we serve and collaborating in a very noncompetitive way,” says Lara Sim, director of Community Health and External Affairs at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “We all have a similar aperture of the geographical area here.”
Sim has been involved with the HHC collaborative for the past six years. Through HHC, it became clear that the work hospitals were doing to address community needs often overlapped. “None of us can impact the population as a whole individually,” says Joie McCracken, MPH, program manager for PHSKC. “A shared approach avoids duplication of energy and leverages the expertise and resources of a variety of health care sectors all with one common goal — to help community health thrive.”
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