When Public Health Meets Collaborative Clinical Care, Good Things Happen

October 21, 2021

// By Marcia Simon, APR //

Marcia Simon“Medicine and public health share a common mission … however, important differences have prevented their integration and effective working collaboration,” says the author of a 2020 NIH publication: Covid-19: An Imperative to Bridge the Gap Between Medicine and Public Health. The work of the King County Hospitals for a Healthier Community is one example where collaboration between the two disciplines is working well.

COVID testing. Vaccines. Health equity. Do they fall under public health or clinical care? In most cases, it’s both, or should be.

Lara Sim, director of Community Health and External Affairs, Seattle Children's Hospital

Lara Sim, director of Community Health and External Affairs, Seattle Children’s Hospital

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.”


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