More fiscal issues

Following up on Steve’s post, I visited the discussion forum for the web cast on Public Health Survival: Leadership in a Falling Market (which is now posted). One of the respondents wrote in to tell about his predicament – to save money, the City Council had dismantled his public health department, transferring some functions to other departments, cancelling others, and leaving this respondent as a “department of one.”

I was shocked by the drastic nature of this city council’s actions, and it struck me that a lot of drastic stuff might be going on out there that we in academia are not fully aware of. It would help us to know what is going on for you… that way we can think about things we could do or offer that would better serve you through these trying times. In any event, as a community of practice, it would be good for us all to know what’s going on and how different individuals, organizations, and communities are dealing with it. For example, the man who is the only member of his department is working on changing his role from one of “directing and controlling to one of advising and consulting,” he said on the discussion forum. Ideally, he is drawing upon connections he’s made in the past to work with others who are now doing the work he and his colleagues used to do. He asked, at the end of his post, whether there were any role models for such a drastic transformation. All I could think of was the importance of making sure you have a community of people and organizations who understand what public health is and why it is important to them that the public stay healthy and safe: that way you'll never truly be a "department of one." But I'd rather hear from you...

If you get a chance, please write in with your stories about “providing leadership in a falling market” – whether yours personally, or those you have heard from others, and what you are doing right now to cope with the challenges of these times. And we realize there are still the day-to-day challenges – what is getting cut in your health department? Are you seeing a change in your clientele as a result of the economic downturn? Also, if you’ve undertaken public health business planning in the past, are you having any positive results of work you’ve done building partnerships, using business practices, and the like?

- Anne