A New Streamlined Public Health Infrastructure for Maine

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"The public health system is an integral part of Dirigo Health Reform. We are maximizing resources and building collaborations that will yield better health for our citizens," said the governor. "This will lead to more efficient and effective delivery of healthcare statewide."

By Ramona du Houx

"Today we are laying the foundation for a stronger pubic health system," announced Governor Baldacci during a celebration at the State Capitol that launched a new streamlined public health infrastructure where agencies and health organizations will work together to provide better health services for all Maine citizens.

Recognizing the healthcare crisis in America, Governor Baldacci’s first major initiative was the passage of the Dirigo Health Reform Act, with a bipartisan majority in the Legislature. The goal of the Dirigo Health Act, is to make Maine the healthiest state in the nation. Four years later, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Census, Maine is tied for first in the nation for making sure citizens have healthcare coverage.

"The public health system is an integral part of Dirigo Health Reform. We are maximizing resources and building collaborations that will yield better health for our citizens," said the governor. "This will lead to more efficient and effective delivery of healthcare statewide."

he governor Baldacci of Maine is joined by state healthcare workers at the celebration of the new state heathcare partnerships

The governor is joined by state healthcare workers at the celebration of the new state heathcare partnerships

Among the improvements, the Maine Center for Disease Control has created eight Public Health Units within Department of Health and Human Services regional offices. Health inspectors, public health nurses, and other staff will be located together in these health districts and will be more accessible to residents and health professionals.

"A true coordination between public health, disease prevention, mental health, substance abuse treatment, services to children and the elderly and others will be possible with this new public health infrastructure," said Dr. Dora Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A statewide system of comprehensive community health coalitions is already in place, which includes Healthy Maine Partnerships, funded by five combined sources of Federal and Tobacco Settlement funds. The state will work hand in hand with these coalitions which are focused on educating communities on obesity, exercise, nutrition, and tobacco prevention. A focus will be to continue to work with schools. Currently Healthy Maine Partnerships have programs in forty-one school districts.

Bringing all these partners together with the goal of streamlining services to maximize resources and coordinate efforts leading to better efficiencies took two years of hard work.

"We’ve consolidated more than 100 grants and contracts that did not provide statewide coverage to 28 statewide Healthy Maine Partnerships that will," said Baldacci. "With current consolidation efforts going on throughout government at all levels, I’m pleased to see that our public health community has worked hard to stretch dollars to do more and cover more."

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The governor is joined by state healthcare workers at the celebration of the new state heathcare partnerships

The governor presented apple tree saplings to the Healthy Maine Partnerships present at the event, symbolizing the foundation of a system with strong and seamless connections from local, regional, and state levels. "An apple a day is the symbol of good preventive health, but these saplings — like our emerging public health system — need to be nourished through the hard work of the people here today and the Healthy Maine Partnerships," said the governor.

"The whole mission is to make Maine’s public health system more effective and more efficient," said Dr. Mills.

The state conducted a series of forums in each district to ensure the public’s input was heard and viable ideas acted upon. There will be opportunities for the public to monitor and weigh in on the State Health Plan as it is being developed. More information: dirigohealth.maine.gov