HMP No More, but HOH Lives On!
I am now a former Healthy Maine Partnership (HMP) Director. That saddens me. Fortunately, I am still the Healthy Oxford Hills (HOH) Director. That gives me hope. “Huh?” you may say. If you have seen the recent articles in the Bangor Daily News (Maine dissolves 27 local public health groups with little explanation – Sept. 30, 2016) or the Portland Press Herald (Advocates demand answers for why state ended Healthy Maine Partnerships – Oct. 3, 2016.) you know the reason for the first part about no more HMPs. If you also happened to read an article last summer in the Advertiser Democrat about the same issue (Healthy Oxford Hills faces uncertain future – June 30, 2016.) then you might understand that HOH is still alive and kicking despite losing the state funding that was about half of our annual budget as an HMP. Let me explain.
HOH was a community health coalition for almost ten years before the Tobacco Settlement funded the HMP system of public health beginning in 2001. That means there were people and organizations who were focused on working together to improve health in the Oxford Hills then – and there still are now. During the 15 years HOH functioned as an HMP we delivered State mandated programming on tobacco and substance use prevention, reducing obesity, and more. We also developed our network of local and county-wide partners, deepened our understanding of collaboration, listened to grass-roots input about health needs and interventions, and did our best to tailor those state programs to local conditions and needs. Our support of the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative is one example of how HOH has worked to build local capacity to work together even more effectively on the health, environmental, and economic challenges we face.
HOH continues to enjoy the strong support of Stephens Memorial Hospital and a number of other stakeholders who believe in the disease prevention and community building work we do. We are also participating in the public health district system that the current administration has chosen to replace the HMPs. I fully expect HOH will continue to serve the people of Oxford County with the active help of these stakeholders and all of our partners, for many years to come. We have simply returned to our roots as a healthy community coalition. A much stronger one in many ways, and just as committed to working together to build the future we all want to live into.
Jim Douglas, M.Ed. is the Partnership Director for Healthy Oxford Hills, your local Healthy Community Coalition and a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital. You can connect with him at 739-6222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HealthyOxfordHills
Reprinted with the permission of the Advertiser Democrat