25 June 2008

YorkCounts E-Newsletter - June 2008

The YorkCounts E-Newsletter
found on the blog at yorkcounts.org
June 2008

In this issue:
  • Anderson, Meckley to make case for public safety study
  • Reconstituted Indicators Committee preparing 2009 report
  • ‘Aligning Forces for Quality’ focus: chronic disease management
* * *

Anderson, Meckley to pitch public safety study

The idea seems to have all of York County talking.

A proposed public safety feasibility study will be on the agenda at board and council meetings across the heart of the county this summer and fall – as YorkCounts Public Safety Committee co-chairs Dave Meckley and Carl Anderson take the case for such a study on the road.

Anderson and Meckley – both also YorkCounts Board members – hope to make presentations before 21 or more municipal governing bodies. Some of the meetings have already been scheduled.

In the meantime, stakeholders and observers have expanded the public conservation in the pages of the York Daily Record/Sunday News and the York Dispatch. “We have high hopes that all of the nearly two-dozen municipalities YorkCounts plans to approach about participating in the study will at least listen to what the group has to say,” the Daily Record noted in an editorial.

Meckley and Anderson will seek local government participation in a study, conducted by an independent consultant, to evaluate the merits of a multi-municipal, regional police department. “We’ve heard many different ideas about how to improve public safety, particularly in terms of police service,” Meckley says. “Some people support a regional police department, while others express concerns over how such a merger would be implemented. The next responsible step is to invite an independent consultant to conduct a customized study.”

“Based on our initial discussions with the researchers, we understand that the study would explore options for meeting the increased demand for police services and the increased cost of providing future service,” Anderson adds. The two have identified PERF – the Police Executive Research Forum – as a national-level association capable of conducting the research.

Regional police consolidation was a recommendation of YorkCounts’ Metro-York process – a 2006-2007 effort aimed at generating ideas for improving municipal prosperity and education in the area. While YorkCounts did actually recommend consolidation, Meckley and Anderson say they are very aware that the municipalities feel they need more information before they make a binding decision.

At the same time, public opinion data suggest that York countians are very interested in the idea of a study. About 81 percent of those responding to a late May poll expressed support for research into whether a regional approach might produce more efficient service or head off future cost increases. The interactive survey was commissioned by YorkCounts and conducted by Harrisburg-based GoverCom.

“Just since letters went out to the municipalities and articles started appearing in the papers, we’ve had municipalities calling us and asking to schedule their presentations,” says YorkCounts Director James DeBord. “We’re off to an encouraging start.”

Municipal elected officials or administrators with questions about the Public Safety Committee can reach DeBord at 717/815-6436 or jdebord@ycp.edu.

* * *

Reconstituted Indicators Committee working on report for 2009

A busy new committee is leading YorkCounts in the first review and overhaul of the organization’s quality-of-life “Indicators” since the Indicators were initially introduced to the community.

The Indicators are a collection of measurements related to family and community, health and safety, economics and education. Hundreds of citizens contributed to the selection of the original Indicators, which were presented in a report in 2001 and re-released with new data in 2006. YorkCounts has expanded its range of activities over the past eight years, but at the birth of the coalition, the Indicators report was its primary output.

Bob Woods – a YorkCounts Board member who heads the United Way of York County – is chairing the Indicators Committee and says it was time for an update. “We haven’t set out to re-invent the wheel here,” Woods says, “especially considering that the original list of Indicators came together with extensive community input.

“But in the seven years since the first report, some older data has not been updated by the original source or cannot be found, some new data have become available and some new issues have gained in prominence. The new report will be grounded in the original efforts of the community – and enhanced by what we know now that we didn’t know then.”

Among other things, the new edition will include an arts and cultural component. There were no arts Indicators in the 2001 report.

The new slate of Indicators is also expected to be streamlined. There were nearly 60 Indicators in 2001, but the 2006 report included fewer than 50 because of the lack of updates to some data. Woods says availability and reliability are two important criteria that will be reflected in the 40 or so Indicators in the 2009 report.

Finally, Woods notes, the committee has expressed an insistence on making sure that each Indicator is presented in a context. “In some cases in the earlier reports, we included numbers, but we didn’t give readers a way to know whether something was high or low or in the middle. The new Indicators are more likely to report a per capita rate of something than just a number of instances or number of cases, for example.”

Woods says the committee expects to finish its work in November, turning over its work product to the YorkCounts Board. If the Board approves the new Indicators, the report is expected to be released in conjunction with the 2009 YorkCounts Summit in March or April.

* * *

‘Aligning Forces for Quality’ focus: chronic disease management

YorkCounts’ core concern is quality of life – and few things are more central to quality of life than one’s health. Some $1.6 million in funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will help the Healthy York County Coalition work to improve the quality of life for those with chronic diseases by examining relationships among patients, providers and other health care stakeholders.

HYCC is one of 14 collaboratives nationwide to receive funding to participate in Aligning Forces for Quality: The Regional Market Project. The program “is aimed at eliminating the gap between the quality of care that patients with chronic diseases currently receive and the quality of care that patients should expect,” according to HYCC.

HYCC and RWJF announced the grant and the plans at a news conference in early June. The Foundation’s national commitment is $300 million.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to come together and improve the quality of care for people with chronic diseases in our community,” says Robin Rohrbaugh, HYCC’s executive director. “It is encouraging to see so many people energized about making a positive change.”

Dr. Charlie Chodroff, speaking at the Aligning Forces for Quality news conference

This regional Aligning Forces for Quality project will incorporate York and Adams counties and will consist of strategies from data-gathering to pilot care efforts.

  • It’s hoped that 50 percent or more of York County’s primary care physicians will publicly report data for diabetes, heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • Patients will provide feedback that can be used by doctors to improve care.
  • A Consumer Advocacy Council will raise awareness of the project and promote best practices.

The progress of Aligning Forces for Quality in South Central Pennsylvania will be chronicled at www.aligning4healthpa.org. The site will also be a consumer portal. Already, it features a “Share Your Story” section where patients are encouraged to reflect on how they manage their or their loved one’s chronic conditions.

Aligning Forces for Quality collaboratives include the York City Bureau of Health, Family First Health, Hanover Hospital, Memorial Hospital and WellSpan Health, a YorkCounts Parnter.

* * *

The YorkCounts E-Newsletter is written by Beau Boughamer. Reach YorkCounts by mail c/o the Center for Community Engagement at York College of Pennsylvania, 605 South George Street, Suite 160, York, PA 17401, by telephone at (717) 815-6430 or by e-mail at yorkcounts@gmail.com. Visit YorkCounts online at yorkcounts.org.

16 June 2008

Poll shows continued support for police study

Local officials should study the pros and cons of a regional approach
to public safety if the change might produce more efficient service
and head off future cost increases, according to a recent survey of
York County registered voters. The poll results will be one backdrop
as volunteer leaders of YorkCounts – York County's community-wide,
nonpartisan quality-of-life coalition – go municipality to
municipality this summer, making the case for such a study.

Read more of today's YorkCounts press release: