Improving Community Health Through Collective Impact

As Trident United Way has pivoted its direction towards collective impact, Healthy Tri-County has emerged as a prime example of the new direction by bringing together people and organizations to solve the community’s most pressing health needs that no one organization can solve on its own. Since its official launch in January 2017, 52 organizations that operate in for-profit, government and nonprofit spaces have committed to working together to improve outcomes in the Tri-County region.

The partnership began with the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment, which brought Healthy Tri-County core partners MUSC Health, Roper St. Francis Healthcare and Trident United Way together to conduct a comprehensive survey of the health needs in the community. After mapping out the six most important priorities as identified by survey respondents, the trio of partners decided to launch a community-wide initiative that would involve every type of organization that influences public health.

“You have school boards, law enforcement, CEOs of hospitals – you have a group that truly represents what public health is,” SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Lee Taylor says of Healthy Tri-County.  “You can see that it isn’t just hospitals that make up public health – it’s everyone from all facets of a community that need to come together if you are truly going to make an impact.”

Healthy Tri-County marks the first time multiple local hospitals have come together with other for-profit, government and nonprofit entities to work on a shared goal. Using shared metrics and constant communication, Healthy Tri-County works to avoid duplication of services and ensure all gaps are covered. A total of 79 individuals have participated in meetings and volunteered time to write a cohesive Tri-County Health Improvement Plan, which will be finished later in 2018.

SC DHEC has served as the technical advisor for Healthy Tri-County, providing guidance on the framework and process of creating the health improvement plan. SC DHEC has a representative on every single work group and at the executive committee level, Lee reports. Additionally, SC DHEC has been a valuable resource in providing data to help structure and support the health improvement plan.

“We’re the largest collectors of data and this is a perfect situation in which to tap into that data and use it," Lee, who serves as SC DHEC’s Public Health Director for the Lowcountry region, said.

The Tri-County Health Improvement Plan addresses the community-identified priorities of access to care, behavioral health, clinical preventative services, maternal and child infant health and obesity, nutrition and physical activity. A diabetes coalition was established based on the CHNA, which identified early the  need for awareness and education  about type 1 diabetes and prediabetes. When complete, the health improvement plan will provide the community with a five-year roadmap towards improving public health in the region.

Healthy Tri-County is greatly benefitting from SC DHEC’s participation, but it isn’t the only one. SC DHEC is preparing to roll out a statewide needs assessment and health improvement plan of its own and has been closely watching as Healthy Tri-County goes through the same process it is about to embark.

“What’s been particularly exciting about working with DHEC on the development of the Tri-County Health Improvement Plan is how our relationship with them has grown and developed since the start of the process,” Trident United Way Director of Health Kellye McKenzie explains. “We’ve transitioned from a student/teacher relationship into more of a collegial partnership, with them able to learn from and borrow some of the strategies we’ve rolled out locally into the State Health Improvement Plan that is currently in development. This more symbiotic relationship will help strengthen alignment across health improvement efforts, both in the Tri-County and at the state level.

It is because of investors like you that Trident United Way has been able to serve as the backbone in the establishment of Healthy Tri-County, a necessary component of successful collective impact work. 

“We’re the big players in this arena and working together we can accomplish so much more than if we try to accomplish things individually,” Lee says.