Sarasota County Health Department wins national honor

Programs recognized during presentation in Orlando

This is an image from the website of the National Association of County and City Health Officials

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has been recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as Large Local Health Department of the Year for 2019, the department has announced.

The award was presented during a ceremony conducted on the evening of July 10 in Orlando, a news release says.

Applicants for the award were judged on the basis of size of the health department and then “were scored on their innovation and creativity, implementation, impact in the community and public health, and engagement of community and diverse partners,” the release explains. The theme for the 2019 Local Health Department of the Year Award was Improving Public and Private Partnerships, the release notes.

Sarasota County Health and Human Services (SCHHS) is a collaboration between the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County and Sarasota County Government, the release adds.

“This collaboration is of the greatest importance for our county,” Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said in the news release. “The services provided by the department of health improve the lives of everyone in our community, regardless of age,” Lewis added in the release. “This is yet another reason that Sarasota County is one of the best places to live.”

“Whether leading, facilitating, guiding, or supporting, Sarasota County Health and Human Services remains deeply committed to our shared community goals,” Chuck Henry, administrator of the Department of Health (DOH) in Sarasota County and director of Sarasota County Health and Human Services, said in the release.

“This includes collaborations tackling behavioral health, aging, and the first years of life, supported by multiple charitable foundations and agencies committed to finding successful avenues for improvement, Henry added in the release.

Chuck Henry. Photo courtesy Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County

Among the “three thriving examples of positive community collaborations” NACCHO highlighted during the award presentation was the Behavioral Health Stakeholders Consortium (BHSC), the release says.

The BHSC convenes monthly with service providers, law enforcement and hospital representatives, consumers, family members, and the managing entity for state mental health and substance abuse funding “to identify and solve system issues,” the release notes. With leadership and staff support from Sarasota County Health and Human Services, the BHSC “has developed at least two programs worthy of recognition,” it adds.

Since 2006, 2,020 participants have been served though a 10-week Voluntary Interim Placement-Enhanced Recovery (VIP-ER) Program developed through the BHSC, the release says. The completion rate is 76%. Further, of the 84% of graduates located a year after completing the program, 90% remain sober, while the industry standard for sobriety 12 months after completing a program is 10%, the release points out. Additionally, 97% remained in stable housing, and 68% remained employed, the release notes.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota please visit www.sarasotahealth.org.

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