Phase 1: Chicago, IL Vignette
Organize for Success/Partnership Development
Prompted by the national Turning Point initiative, in 1998, the Chicago Department of Public Health initiated an effort to strengthen Chicago's local public health system. Grant funding provided an incentive, refocusing the health department's attention on the need to engage its partners in planning for an enhanced system.
A four-member advisory committee included representation from the city health department, the business community, the board of health, and a health policy/advocacy organization. The advisory committee's first task was to agree upon the membership of the planning body, known as the Chicago Partnership. A 29-member body was appointed and included the public hospital, community health centers, governmental agencies with ties to public health, the religious and business communities, health advocacy organizations, philanthropists, and academics.
The Chicago Partnership was organized as a committee that would operate largely by consensus. Workgroups were formed as needed to consider specific issues; however, all formal decisions were made by the full partnership. The partnership met every other month in two- to three-hour sessions with homework assignments carried out between meetings and transmitted to staff via fax or e-mail. Additional meetings were scheduled as needed.
Stakeholder expectations were assessed through a survey sent to all partnership members prior to the initial meeting. Member agencies shared perceptions of both their contributions to the local public health system as well as those of the health department. Survey responses were summarized and presented for discussion at the Chicago Partnership's first meeting.
A draft workplan was developed by staff and presented for approval at the partnership's first meeting. The workplan was revised twice during the process: once when the grantor's schedule required that some tasks be completed earlier than anticipated, and again when the partnership needed additional time to carry out its tasks.
The staff and the advisory committee drafted a set of nine guiding principles and assumptions and presented them to the partnership for consideration. The assumptions were revised and adopted based on feedback.
The planning process was supported with limited grant funds supplemented by contributions from the health department which included in-kind support from a deputy commissioner (10 percent), the planning director (50 percent), and a secretary (25 percent). In addition, the health commissioner provided funding for a full-time planner for the effort. Partnership members contributed meeting space and staff support for specific tasks throughout the project, in addition to their time.