Success Story

The Three C’s of Successful State and Local Partnerships in West Virginia: Communicate, Collaborate and Coordinate 


By Pat Moss
Director, Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health
West Virginia Bureau for Public Health 

“Communicate – Collaborate – Coordinate” has always been the MCH (public health) mantra. Clearly, working in partnership toward a shared vision has been critical to successful maternal and child health system development across the country. 

The details of how this is achieved are sometimes elusive, and each state has its many stories. West Virginia is no exception. 

In the early 2000’s, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and local health departments acknowledged the need for an improved working relationship to advance public health efforts. A written working relationship charter was developed that specified how issues would be advanced, problems studied and plans executed; teaming principles and practices were agreed upon; and communication and decision making processes were formalized. 

A basis for collaborative work involving the state and local health departments required the following agreed upon process: 

1.     Workgroups must have a defined purpose

2.     The number of people, areas of expertise, skills and resources needed must be identified

3.     Communication of information about the expected time commitment, travel , etc. must be delineated

4.     A proposed roster of workgroup members may be suggested

5.     Ultimately, an oversight committee representing an equal number of local health department and the State Bureau for Public Health, select workgroup members and draft charters 

This is an on-going process that exists today and has resulted in a strengthened relationship among local health departments, boards of health and the Bureau for Public Health (state). The formalization of processes has also resulted in increased opportunity for public health to improve collaborative planning, teaming and decision making. The most lasting benefit has been one vision shared that has resulted in increased legislative appropriations to support local health department core functions. 

The West Virginia team said it best: Success will be when we recognize that the success of the whole is greater than any one issue. 

For further information, please contact Pat Moss, Director, Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health via phone at (304) 558-7261 or Kay Shamblin, Director, Division of Local Health via phone at (304) 558-887.