College Public Health Center outreach involves faculty, students

Amanda Knauer

The Center for Public Administration and Public Policy is reaching out to the community while involving faculty and students in the experience during its first academic year.

John Hoornbeek, associate professor of Health, Policy and Management, directs the center, which originates out of the College of Public Health.

Hoornbeek said the center is designed to help communities, state agencies, federal agencies, non-profit organizations and other facilities better understand public health problems.

“The college of public health, by its very nature, is a professional college that is outward oriented and is looking to do research and train students to meet the needs of the public health work force,” Hoornbeek said. “The center is a central component to the effort to have our work here in the college connect to the needs of the outside world.”

Agencies can contact the center if they would like to better understand a problem or develop public health programs, said Ken Slenkovich, assistant dean of the College of Public Health.

The center and its staff are already involved with tasks throughout the community, including a project with three hospitals in Summit County.

The hospitals came to the center to do a health-needs assessment, which identifies the health needs in the community and, then, develops programs to address these needs.

The center also does work including technical assistance, operations assessments and consolidating health departments.

A statewide project the center is currently working on includes coupling smaller health departments with larger ones to improve efficiency and becoming more productive for the state as a whole, Hoornbeek said.

Slenkovich said the center is also a way for both graduate and undergraduate students to get hands-on experience.

“When students apply the theories and methodologies they’ve learned in class to real world problems, that just makes a huge difference,” Slenkovich said.

“When you can get out there with your degree and you sit in an interview, you can say, ‘Not only did I study this, I actually did this.’”

The center’s staff is made up of faculty members, some of which partner with students.

The staff was invited to do a panel at the American Public Health Association on their work, making the center already recognized on a national level for the progress they have been making, Hoornbeek said.

Hoornbeek said there are big plans for the future of the center.

“My hope is that this center, as it moves forward, can build areas of expertise to impact the communities in which we live in Northeast Ohio, the state and the nation, while bringing students into the process and enriching their learning processes in a variety of fields over time,” Hoornbeek said.

Slenkovich agrees that the center has a bright future, and that the team will work together to become acknowledged regionally, statewide and nationally.

“Our goal is to become recognized as the go-to resource for technical assistance when it comes to helping organizations, like health departments and hospitals, solve some of the problems that their going through as they look to improve their service delivery, new program development and other projects,” Slenkovich said.

Amanda Knauer is the medicine reporter for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact Amanda Knauer at [email protected].