assessment, care functions, essential services, public health systems



  1. Livingood, William C. PhD
  2. Goldhagen, Jeff MD, MPH
  3. Bryant, Thomas III MSW
  4. Wood, David MD, MPH
  5. Winterbauer, Nancy PhD, MS
  6. Woodhouse, Lynn D. EdD, MPH


The academic health department, also referred to as the teaching health department, is receiving increased attention as an organizational structure to enhance public health workforce development. Traditionally, academic institutions have been viewed by major funders, and reported in the literature, to be the innovators of these partnerships, in part to extend the academic institution's education role in the workplace. However, the role of the local health department as innovator is emerging with implications beyond workforce development. This report illustrates how a local agency-initiated community-centered approach to an academic health department enhances the core public health function of assessment, a frequently underdeveloped function at the local level. This agency-initiated, community-centered academic health department model builds assessment capacity through a partnership that integrates academic research and public health surveillance capacity to provide comprehensive assessment, including community assessment, community-based participatory research, data analysis, and program evaluation. This organizational structure, focused on systems approaches to building community capacity rather than focusing on disease categories or high-risk populations, illustrates how a local health department can substantially enhance its assessment capacity using available resources.