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Keywords

capacity, community development, community health partnerships, infrastructure, local public health, Turning Point

 

Authors

  1. Kassler, William J. MD, MPH
  2. Goldsberry, Yvonne P. PhD

Abstract

In 1997, under the auspices of the Turning Point program, New Hampshire's public health stakeholders convened a strategic planning process to transform the state public health system. What emerged was a fundamental vision that the public health system could only be improved by strengthening the capacity of local communities to address local health issues. A plan was developed to create regional public health structures, in areas with no local health departments, to deliver essential public health services at the local level. Seven years later, that plan has become the New Hampshire Public Health Network. The network now covers 67% of the New Hampshire population and includes 113 (48%) cities and towns. Pre- and postevaluations to assess local public health infrastructure at the inception of the program and following 2 years of funding and technical assistance showed significant improvement in local public health capacity and performance. This article describes the development of local public health structures in New Hampshire where none had previously existed.