In response to the tremendous changes in the health care delivery system in Tennessee and the nation, the Department of Health implemented the Community Diagnosis Process in 1996. As the focus of health care shifted from treatment to prevention, public health assumed a greater concern for the overall healthiness of communities. The community diagnosis process, a community based-community owned process was used to:
County Health Councils, diverse groups representing various professions, geographic locations, social-economic levels and ethnic groups, were organized to complete the community diagnosis process. The combination of the liberally spiced knowledge of local residents and health and social statistics were used to assess health needs of the 12 communities of the Mid-Cumberland Region (one of nine regions in Tennessee).
In 1996, pilot Health Councils were formed in Williamson and Rutherford Counties. In 1997 councils were formed in the remaining counties of Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, and Wilson.
During the first year, the councils reviewed and discussed many data sets related to the county’s health status as compared to the State. The process began by members developing a preliminary list of concerns that were shared by the majority of county residents. Data specific to those concerns was gathered and scrutinized by the councils. After determining the major health issues in the county, members prioritized issues based on the number of people affected, the impact on health and financial cost.
Currently the role of the health councils is to enact a plan to address their priority areas. This is accomplished by partnering with other organizations or developing and implementing interventions. Health Councils also provide input and planning on services and funding provided by the Department of Health and assure accountability for the state funded initiatives within their communities.
Councils meet on a monthly basis and meetings are open to the public.