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A Regional Health Care System Partnership With Local Communities to Impact Chronic Disease
Before 1990, Non-communicable chronic diseases, Indigenous population's health, Diarrhea, Water contamination/pollution and health, Toxic substances and health
Regional health care systems have significant opportunities to adopt community-oriented approaches that impact the incidence and burden of chronic disease. In 1998, a vertically integrated, regional health care system established a community health institute to identify, understand, and respond to health needs from a community perspective. The project was implemented in four communities (two rural counties, a rural/urban transitional county, and an inner-city community) using five steps: 1) support or form a local community coalition; 2) hire and support a local coordinator; 3) prepare a formal community assessment; 4) fund locally designed interventions; and 5) evaluate each project.
In four narrative case studies, we present the steps, challenges, and common principles faced at the local level by Carolinas Community Health Institute. The case studies were prepared using three data sources: reviews of written documents, interviews with the seven-member steering committee, and interviews with six key informants from each county. Data were coded and analyzed using standard qualitative software to identify common themes and sources of variance between cases.

The project model was generally well accepted. Local autonomy and domain disputes were challenges in all four sites. Funding for local projects was the most frequently cited benefit. The project was successful in increasing local capacity and supporting well-designed interventions to prevent chronic disease. This approach can be used by large health care systems and by other organizations to better support local health initiatives 

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