OCHO Brings Strong Collaboration to Public Health

Approximately 125 professionals in health-related fields came together for a one-day conference at the end of June 2011 to strengthen their relationships as they embark on something quite new.

The outcome of this collaboration of OSU Extension faculty in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, public health department staff from the state and counties, and other campus faculty will be a model of public health improvement, service and outreach. The conference was sponsored by the College’s new outreach unit, known as the Outreach Collaborative for a Healthy Oregon, or OCHO.

"This collaboration is needed for Oregon," said Marc Braverman, Extension Specialist in the College and a member of the OCHO planning team. "It will benefit from Extension's success in reaching audiences and engaging with them to address local problems."

As one strategy to kick off the new venture, four grants totaling about $100,000 were funded as pilot programs by OSU’s new College of Public Health and Human Sciences, the Extension Family and Community Health (FCH) Program, and Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program. Each grant funds an individual county partnership among its FCH and 4-H programs, the county health department, and an OSU campus researcher.

Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said that community-oriented projects will have immediate impact in research and measurable results. "A collaborative approach that brings together local communities with our researchers and Extension will improve public health and benefit all Oregonians," she said.

The four pilot projects exemplify “engaged scholarship,” in which University faculty and community members come together as partners to generate solutions to important issues in that community. The pilot programs and their counties are:

  • Linn County: “Poder Comunitario.” The community will help Latinos become advocates for community interventions and public health services.
  • Jefferson County: “Restructuring School Lunches with New Guidelines." A revision of the school lunch program will offer meals that are nutritionally sound, responsive to culture and popular with students.
  • Jackson and Josephine Counties: “Don't Let Rabies Get Your Goat.” A vaccination and education program will respond to the high prevalence of rabies in southern Oregon counties.
  • Klamath County: “Klamath Youth Harvest 4-H Club.” A city-based community gardening program will teach youth to grow and prepare healthy food using a positive, youth development approach.

In addition to presentations about OCHO, conference participants heard keynote speaker Arthur Kaufman, MD, from the Dept. of Community Health at the University of New Mexico, discuss Community Partnerships for Health. Mel Kohn, MD, Director of the Oregon Public Health Division, spoke on priority and emerging public health issues in the state. Kathleen O’Leary, RN, MPH, Chair of Oregon’s Conference of Local Health Officials, spoke about adding value through Extension–Public Health partnerships. 

Participants also worked in regional and topic-specific groups to plan future projects and opportunities for further collaboration.