Kresge Health Program adopts new term, ‘community health partnerships,’ and streamlines focus areas
Language is intended to emphasize good health for communities and collaborations.
This week we introduce a new term to talk about one of our Health Program focus areas: Community Health Partnerships.
The phrase was coined after extensive discussions about what Health Program staff members hope to achieve and how they expect to reach those goals.
“In using the term ‘community health partnerships’ we’ve put the emphasis on health, rather than on health care or sickness,” says David Fukuzawa, who leads Kresge’s Health Program.
“We’re also stressing community, rather than discrete individuals; and collaborations or partnerships,” he says. The health team believes the social, environmental and other factors that determine well-being are best addressed by a cross-section of community organizations working in partnership with health clinics, agencies and institutions.
Community Health Partnerships replaces the label “Caring Communities,” which had previously been used to identify a suite of grant opportunities and initiatives – or focus area – within the Health Program portfolio.
There have been numerous attempts to create common, recognizable ways of talking about concepts within community and public health.
For example, “population health” refers to the health of a group, all touched by common external and social circumstances. The term the “social determinants of health” is generally understood to mean the spectrum of conditions that contribute to health outcomes: affluence, education, and access to resources, among others.
Those and other existing terms are easily perceived as jargon or don’t fully capture the scope of the Health Program’s investments, says Fukuzawa.
Grants and other support offered in the Community Health Partnerships focus area encourage collaborations among health and other local partners; and the integration of public-health thinking into health care, especially the primary-care safety-net.
The Health Program’s second focus area, Healthy Environments, supports efforts to make the places where low-income families live, learn, work and play safe and healthy.
Together, those two bodies of work aim to reduce health disparities by promoting conditions and environments that lead to positive health outcomes for all Americans.
The Health Program had previously organized its portfolio around three focus areas. The third, “Emerging and Promising Practices in Population Health,” was – in large –part a subset of “Community Health Partnerships,” says Fukuzawa. The program is now streamlined to eliminate the unnecessary distinction.
“Our grantmaking strategy is unchanged. You’ll see us support the same kind of activities that are in the portfolio today,” he says. “We’ve just simplified the focus areas and, we hope, settled on a term that properly describes our focus on good health for communities and on collaborative approaches.”