Built on a Foundation of Partnership
Cambridge is home to the second-largest local health department in Massachusetts, but creating a healthier community… takes a village. The health department is a part of Cambridge Health Alliance, a healthcare system with three hospital campuses and an extensive primary care network, giving it the unique ability to fully integrate the provision of public health with related community health efforts, according to Claude-Alix Jacob, the Chief Public Health Officer for the city. Jacob oversees the operations of the Cambridge Public Health Department.
"Our core functions—gathering data, leveraging services, designing policies that work—allow us to not only be a part of the architecture of the Cambridge Health Alliance, but also to leverage resources with some of our partners, say with public safety, or emergency preparedness. So a lot of our planning efforts are tied into partnerships with the fire department and the police department. A lot of our activities on the wellness promotion side tie in with human services and community development.”
Semonoff says the Cambridge Health Alliance allows a level of collaboration and knowledge that would otherwise be very difficult to provide the residents of Cambridge.
“That means that as a health department and as a community we’re able to draw on resources that are way beyond the capacity of any one health department. When we’ve faced issues in the city—whether it’s trauma or flu, whatever the situation is—we’re able to draw on the rich opportunities and resources of the Cambridge Health Alliance.”
And, as with many of the other public health efforts in Cambridge, it’s built on a foundation of partnership.
"If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the City of Cambridge it’s that there is no one entity that can solve any particular problem,” says Semonoff.