OHIO Alliance for Population Health Projects

The Ohio Alliance for Population Health (OAPH) is a partnership of 50 universities, insurance companies, health-care systems, advocacy groups, policy institutes and government agencies. OAPH is a service of Ohio University, originally focused on Southeast Ohio, that has now grown to reach the entire state.

OAPH responds to communities engaged in health improvement projects that need specific areas of expertise. Communities range in size from small villages to counties, regions, and the state as a whole. OAPH partners even recently completed 24 training sessions for Ukrainian orphanage staff and counseling sessions online for children orphaned by the war.

OAPH services could include convening, communications, outreach, grant preparation, advocacy, quality improvement, data analytics, research, evaluation, continuing education, student support, technical expertise, clinical services, etc. OAPH becomes a long-term partner of the community and “fills the gaps” in local resources by coordinating assistance tailored to the unique needs of a community.

To date, OAPH has been involved in roughly 40 community projects around Ohio. Current projects include the following.

Academic Health Department

OAPH is integrating the social media presence of Academic Health Department. This Academic Health Department (AHD) was created to aggrandize public health education and training, research and services by connecting and collaborating with the people of many communities. This has been made possible by integrating vast types and levels of partnerships between academic institutions and health departments. The goal of this AHD is to collaborate with public health entities and academic institutions to enhance public health learning and training. Through this work, we strive to enhance the public health system, whilst improving the health of the communities involved.

Appalachian Community Projects Technical Assistance Grant

The Ohio Department of Development awarded OAPH partners a technical assistance grant to plan the development of a health system in Southeast Ohio. The resulting proposal will stress workforce development, school-based health, substance abuse services and referral networks. Project proposals will then be considered for funding through the $500 million set aside for Appalachian Community Projects.

Appalachian Recovery Project

With $12 million from the State of Ohio, $1.2 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the support of 25 local government agencies and community action groups, OAPH is in the process of repurposing a recently closed state prison into a women’s jail and model recovery center. Women coping with a substance abuse disorder will receive medical treatment, counseling, and job training while involved in the criminal justice system. When these women return to the community, service providers will follow them to support their long-term success.

Community Health and Peer Support

OAPH received a four-year federal grant to identify and train community members who can act as peer supporters for victims of substance abuse. The program identifies those in recovery — and front-line health-care workers — as key peers who can support those attempting to escape the grip of SUD (substance-use disorder) on their journey to recovery. The training is designed to complement and support professional counselors.

Community Health Worker Center of Excellence

In the recent biennial budget, the State of Ohio mandated a Community Health Worker (CHW) Center of Excellence to lead the development of Community Health Workers in Ohio. OAPH partners are collaborating with the Ohio Department of Health and other CHW leaders to promote the growth of these important community-based health connectors across the state.

Community Health Worker Regional COVID Response Network Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided a $4.5 million grant to train and deploy community health workers who can address public health concerns and the impacts of COVID-19. A particular focus of this work is helping increase individual and community resilience to better manage future public health challenges.

Community Health Worker Training in Ukraine

Many millions of people in Ukraine have been displaced by war and are living as refugees in safer areas of the country. The migration of people has strained the health-care system. OAPH partners are delivering online CHW training to local people trying to fill the gaps in health-care needs in local communities.

County Economic Analysis

OAPH staff are in the preliminary stages of analyzing county-level Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to map the relationship between disease and economic disparity.

Data Reports Covering Relevant Health Topics

OAPH research staff are using CDC WONDER mortality data to identify health disparities across the state of Ohio by key demographics, geographic regions, and over time. Topics include diabetes, firearm deaths, and infant mortality.

HIV/HCV/HBV Screening Evaluation

A private funder provided a five-year, multi-million dollar grant to extend testing and screening for HIV/HCV/HBV to at risk individuals in marginalized groups. The project identifies people with the disease and refers them for treatment and funding for therapy. To date, 4,776 people have been tested, with 2,244 testing positive and referred for treatment.

Leadership and Professional Development Continuing Education

This program is for new and emerging leaders as well as those in middle management roles. Interactive sessions focus on the skills needed to successfully lead transformation and create and maintain a positive work environment. OAPH and partners have worked with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, and the Ohio Department of Health.

OAPH on Social Media

The OAPH recently launched a social media effort to relay important health information to partners around the state.

Quality Improvement Project for Public Health in the State of Ohio

The Association of Ohio Health Commissioners contracted with OAPH partners to identify strengths, takeaways and opportunities to advance public health practice in Ohio through a review of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final report will identify and address the root cause(s) and systemic significance of its findings. 

Race, Equity, and Behavioral Health in Ohio

Private funders support OAPH partners to examine data related to race, ethnicity and behavioral health in Ohio. The team’s four-part series, Behavioral Health in Ohio: Improving Data, Moving Toward Racial & Ethnic Equity, examines race and ethnicity through the lenses of workforce, treatment access and funding. OAPH research staff are working on an analysis of the Treatment Episode Data (TEDS) and Ohio Medicaid Survey data (OMAS) for the Minority Behavioral Health project.

Schools That Thrive

Working together to create innovative solutions that address behavioral health workforce shortages is critical in underserved communities. This pilot project with Hopewell Health Centers, funded through the Ohio Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, offers a pathway for high school sophomores to complete the Ohio University Community Health Worker Training Program, receive career coaching, and create a plan for the next phase of their career exploration pathway while also engaging with a range of health-care professionals and settings.

Self-Care Society

Community Health Workers are frontline workers who engage with individuals and families who have complex needs and challenges. The Self-Care Society offers a menu of self-care opportunities for CHWs and supervisors including a podcast, weekly drop-in support groups, an online platform of resources, and in-person self-care activities.

Southeastern Ohio Regional Quality Improvement Hub

OAPH partners received a 10-year renewable grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center to create a chronic disease quality improvement hub in Southeast Ohio. The hub will collect and evaluate data, target priorities, and develop best practices for interventions. The first focus will be on diabetes before expanding to other chronic diseases.

Southern Ohio Behavioral Health Initiative 

Together, Miami University and Ohio University will create the Southern Ohio Behavioral Health Initiative (SOBHI) that expands the behavioral health workforce and establishes clear plans for growing the behavioral health pipeline throughout southern Ohio. This project provides scholarships, stipends and enhanced education for students in high school, two-year and four-year colleges, and graduate-level social work programs.

State Health Assessment (SHA) and State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP)

The Ohio Department of Health contracted with OAPH partners to create the triennial SHA and SHIP. The SHA will collect and analyze data to determine the health status of Ohioans and identify priorities for interventions. The SHIP will develop interventions based on best practices to guide state health policy and support local health efforts.

Union County Health Department Community Health Assessment

The Union County Health Department contracted with Ohio University’s OAPH and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service to complete the community health assessment for Union County.