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New name in public health: Health unit rebrands, unveils new strategic plan

Introducing: Public Health Sudbury and Districts

Getting out of the shadows and into the public eye will be a major focus for the newly re-branded Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

Formerly known as the Sudbury and District Health Unit, the organization unveiled their new moniker on Jan. 18 while approving their 2018-2022 strategic plan.

The core values and goals of the organization remain unchanged, but a larger focus will now be put on cementing the visual identity of Public Health Sudbury and Districts in an effort to help the public better understand what it is the organization does.

Outlined in the five-year strategic plan were four key priorities, they are:

Equitable opportunities: working to decrease health inequities and supporting all communities in reaching their full health potential;

  • Meaningful relationships: establishing meaningful relationships that lead to successful partnerships, collaborations, and engagement;
  • Practice excellence: striving for ongoing excellence in public health practice including program and service development and delivery; and,
  • Organizational commitment: advancing organization-wide commitment and ensuring the organization is well-positioned to support the work of public health.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts CEO Penny Sutcliffe explained during the board's meeting the time is now for the organization to make its identity clear and inform the public that its more than just "that grey building beside the hospital".

"It's long-standing in terms of the confusion about what is public health and how do we separate that from the hospital and how are we different," said Sutcliffe. 

"There's been a lot of talk over the last year or so with the provincial government's health system transformation about should public health be under the LHIN, there's recommendations that we should merge and so we thought it's even more important now that we're very clear to our public what it is that we do."

Sutcliffe explained that even at the staff level, it's often difficult for public health workers to explain what they do in the community.

What it is specifically that PHSD does as a standalone agency includes immunization clinics and drinking water advisories, but it's the work that PHSD does in partnership with other organizations in the city that Sutcliffe says the organization wants to put its stamp on.

"The work that has more reach is the work we do through others in relationships," said Sutcliffe. 

"Helping a municipality decide what kind of food is available in its arenas or rec centres; how we plan for bike lanes or walkability of communities or age-friendly (communities); so a lot of the work of public health is in partnership and trying to influence the decisions of others," she said. "We want to make sure that when we have someone's attention for a split second that we're really clear in that brief time about what it is we do."

More than 300 engagement surveys, staff and board workshops, and community partner consultations contributed to the decision for a rebranding of the city and district's public health agency.

"We took stock and considered ways we could focus on and highlight the unique and important contribution of public health to creating and supporting healthier communities for all," said PHSD board vice-chair Jefferey Huska.

"Public health is all around us and is often not noticed when something goes wrong such as an outbreak of a disease or a threat to our drinking water. Our work behind the scenes to keep people healthy often does not make the headlines. We thought it was important to refresh our identity and put public health front and centre."

In addition to the name change and a focus on creating a clearer idea of what public health is, PHSD will adopt three key values — humility, trust, and respect — to guide its work:

"As a staff member at Public Health Sudbury and Districts for the past 15 years I can say that the strategic plan has always given me a better understanding of our organization's direction," said Tammy Cheguis, a registered dietitian with PHSD.

"The values of humility, trust, and respect ensure that we're all working with our clients, the community, and partners with their best interests in mind. Our past and present strategic plans will continue to support and guide my work in public health. It's one piece that has helped me build meaningful relationships with the community and trying to ensure that I'm meeting people where they're at."

For more information, visit the organization's new website


Matt Durnan

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