WVU Health Affairs Institute helps strengthen public health agencies through CDC infrastructure technical assistance grant

POSTED: 10/04/2023 at 6:00 am


In the wake of COVID-19, healthcare organizations across the country have faced unprecedented challenges in the public health infrastructure, many stemming from overstretched resources and overstressed workforces. To help health agencies regain their footing post-pandemic and better prepare them for future public health emergencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has awarded $3.84 billion in a groundbreaking investment that supports critical public health infrastructure needs of health departments across the United States, including those in West Virginia.

The Public Health Infrastructure Grant (PHIG) will help ensure that every U.S. community has the people, services, and systems needed to promote and protect health. Grant funding was awarded to two groups: 107 public health departments in all 50 states, including the WV Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health, and three national partners that will support these department recipients using a region-based Hub and Spoke Model. The national partners — Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), and Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) — will provide training and technical assistance, program evaluation, and help to facilitate coordination and communication among the departments, so that departments within regions may share best practices and lessons learned.

CDC expects to award more than $4.5 billion over the five-year grant period to create a stronger, more resilient public health system by engaging public health institutes’ expertise in program evaluation and implementation, organizational capacity building, and health data analytics delivery. To aid communication and planning between the national partner recipients, departments of health, and the CDC, NNPHI launched a regional Innovation hub model consisting of nine regional public health institute hubs with associated spokes that will support the needs of the 107 public health agencies across the nation. This model has a history of proven effectiveness in restoring health department infrastructures in the aftermath of COVID-19 and previous natural disasters.

The WVU Health Affairs Institute will support technical assistance as a region three spoke partner, focused on WV state and local departments of health, in collaboration with our regional hub, the Public Health Management Corporation. Some examples of technical assistance being provided through the NNPHI-driven Hub and Spoke Model include organizational development, quality improvement, performance management, health impact assessment, and evidence-based public health policy and practice. Many hubs have vital research and evaluation teams that can build on existing relationships to access expertise from the public health workforce, academic institutions, and community-based organizations.

“As the NNPHI-recognized public health institute for WV, the Health Affairs Institute is honored to be a sub award of CDC Public Health infrastructure Technical Assistance Grant funding and to represent West Virginia as a Region 3 spoke to support the WV DHHR Bureau for Public Health and local health departments in accomplishing the state’s goals to strengthen and modernize WV’s public health workforce,” said Dr. Summer Hartley, Interim Associate Vice President of the WVU Health Affairs Institute.

In addition to assisting with various technical assistance requests from public health agencies, the Health Affairs Institute will help connect West Virginia stakeholders to regional peers within the NNPHI framework. Sharing successes and challenges, dissemination practices, and data modernization methods will fortify our public health workforce and better identify emerging trends in public health, according to Hartley.

“We commend the National Network of Public Health Institutes’ approach to this model, as leveraging in-state expertise to support state needs will lead to greater impact by capitalizing on established, strong partnerships and local knowledge,” Hartley said.

To learn more about the Public Health Infrastructure Grant, visit cdc.gov.

West Virginia’s public health institute, West Virginia University (WVU) Health Affairs Institute is a nonpartisan organization that provides expert services in progressive health data analytics, public impact research, and program implementation and evaluation in collaboration with government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations to inform the advancement of health at the local, state, and national levels.

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