Montachusett Public Health Network
Montachusett Public Health Network (MPHN)
The MPHN is a network of eleven Health Departments from the Montachusett Region which meets monthly and is committed to making the Montachusett Region the healthiest region in Massachusetts. Meetings are usually held the 3rd Wednesday of the month in a member community. Members of the MPHN consist of the Cities of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner and the towns of Athol, Clinton, Phillipston, Princeton, Royalston, Sterling, Templeton and Westminster as well as Community Health Connections of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner. The City of Fitchburg Board of Health, is the lead and fiscal agent of the MPHN, which received a Public Health District Incentive Grant (PHDIG) totaling $325,000 in 2011 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and funded through the CDC National Public Health Improvement Initiative. The PHDIG program intended to permanently strengthen the local public health infrastructure in Massachusetts by taking maximum advantage of limited resources to protect population health, prevent injury and disease, and promote healthy behaviors through policy change and service delivery at the regional level. PHDIG Grant funds ran dry in 2015, but the MPHN continues to sustain itself to this day utilizing membership and services fees and has received over six million dollars in grants since its inception!
Services provided by the MPHN include but are not limited to inspectional services such as housing, food establishment, and Title 5 inspections as well as nursing services such as communicable disease and food borne illness tracking investigations utilizing MAVEN (Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network) in member communities. Member communities select from the 'cafeteria style' services offered by the MPHN and sign a Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) and are invoiced for those services requested.
In 2014, the MPHN contracted with the Joint Coalition on Health (JCOH) to conduct a Community Health Assessment for its member communities. This Community Health Assessment was designed to provide information and analysis relative to health status, issues, concerns, and assets of the communities that form the MPHN. The assessment includes the eleven cities and towns served by the MPHN, but also includes Community Health Connections of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner.
The stated goal of the MPHN is “raising the health status of the residents of our communities to the highest levels anywhere in the country”. Previous community health assessments, including the Community Health Assessment of North Central Massachusetts together with reports by the Department of Public Health, identified elevated levels of drug abuse, obesity and suicide among the residents of the MPHN communities. These conditions not only have an immediate adverse impact on health status, but also have downstream effects that can linger for years, compromising the lives of entire families. As a result, the MPHN decided to make a concentrated effort to study these conditions in this community health assessment.
Rita McConville, Regional Sanitary Inspector