Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: DR. HENRY ANDERSON, MD
Wisconsin’s environmental public health capacity-building strategy focused on building coordinated environmental health service delivery among state and local health departments and the University of Wisconsin system. Wisconsin’s plan promoted environmental public health service delivery within the state’s 92 state and local health departments, structured state programs to complement and support local efforts, and worked with the University of Wisconsin system to strengthen the state’s environmental public health workforce.
Goals and Objectives
Wisconsin’s program for building environmental public health services capacity had three main goals:
- strengthen state and local health departments by funding a local and state environmental public health liaison, providing start-up funds for new environmental public health consortia, providing incentive funds for new agent health departments and providing minigrants for programmatic innovation in environmental public health.
- capitalize on Wisconsin’s Health Alert Network as a tool for communicating environmental public health information, collecting data, developing environmental public health indicators, visualizing and analyzing environmental public health data with a geographic information system (GIS), and performing environmental public health needs assessments; and
- create an educated and competent workforce through improved enrollment and distance education through the University of Wisconsin system and continuing education from the Wisconsin Environmental Health Association.
Products and Services
Wisconsin environmental public health capacity-building program funds were used to build local environmental public health services by supporting the following products and services:
- five state and local health departments merged to form two new consortia and hire environmental staff and five others merged to perform food-safety inspections;
- fifty-five minigrants were awarded to state and local health departments ($180,225 total) for programmatic innovations such as testing for toxic blue-green algae in recreational waters, drinking water analysis for pesticide contamination, scrap tire recycling, and an educational program about the environmental public health hazards of clandestine drug labs;
- online courses were developed at University of Wisconsin campuses in Eau Claire and Milwaukee, as well as an environmental public health careers brochure was also developed; and
- three environmental public health needs assessments and a GIS platform were used to develop criteria and survey tools for evaluating environmental public health indicators and to organize statewide environmental public health conferences.
Impact to the Community
Wisconsin’s environmental public health capacity program has resulted in a higher profile for environmental public health professionals and in improved environmental public health service delivery at the state and local level. The program also improved morale and collaboration among Wisconsin’s environmental public health professionals. Environmental public health service delivery will continue to improve as needs assessments and continuing education opportunities remain available.
Feedback from Customers
“The health department has received a lot of positive feedback from the community regarding this program.”—Ann Ovsak, Oneida Health Department
“As Environmental Health professionals we often see a need for surveillance, information dissemination, or disease prevention, but are unable to address the problem due to a lack of funding. The mini-grant funds provided us with the opportunity to focus on the Healthy People 2010 objectives and apply them locally.”—Nancy Eggleston, Wood County Health Department