Exploring a Health Department Partnership

We have 19 communities in Milwaukee County, often with services being delivered 19 different ways. In this era of increasingly constrained budgets, that is not sustainable.

We need to creatively look at ways to work together, and I’m hopeful we can do that with public health.

On Tuesday, the South Milwaukee and Oak Creek City Councils took a major step toward that potential sharing of services.

First, the councils voted to extend for six months our “loan” of our health administrator, Jackie Ove, to lead Oak Creek’s department. This is on an interim basis, as they have been without a full-time administrator since earlier this year.

At the same time, the councils voted to partner with the Public Policy Forum on a “white paper” study of potential additional sharing of health services between the two communities.

I have been a part of discussions with Oak Creek on this for several months now, and leaders in both communities feel this partnership is worthy of exploration.

My goal in this and every potential partnership: Find ways to not only deliver the service more efficiently and perhaps save money, but also enhance the service. I am confident we can do that in this case. At the very least, I want to try.

I want to learn about our options, see how others have done it, and what issues and challenges there are for us as we embark on this. In other words, this effort will give us the information we need to make an educated decision, even if that decision is status quo.

We are already partnering with Oak Creek on IT services for 2017, and hopefully beyond.

I look forward to exploring more ways we can work with other communities to make all of us stronger. We have to.

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