PITTSBURGH, PA (February 5, 2021) The City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Community Health and Safety (OCHS), in partnership with Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health, has been selected to join the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Cities of Opportunity for Cities and Health Systems Community of Practice cohort. The cohort provides an in-depth learning network led by NLC in partnership with the Center to Advance Community Health & Equity (CACHE) to foster and strengthen collaboration between municipal governments, health systems stakeholders and community partners to address root causes of poor health and advance equity in Pittsburgh.
“We’d like to thank NLC and Cities of Opportunity for selecting the City of Pittsburgh for this cohort,” said Mayor William Peduto. “As a new city office, OCHS has the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the way the City and its health system partners deliver services and create real, sustainable change for the health and safety of our communities. We look forward to creating a model for Pittsburgh and the country for how we can work with our world-class health systems to leverage partnerships, work together, listen to the community and design our systems to respond to the root causes and real needs of residents with resources that help in both the immediate and long term.”
The Cities of Opportunity initiative helps local leaders address holistic, interconnected factors that affect residents’ health and safety and build resiliency in all communities. The City of Pittsburgh was among 22 municipalities from across the country selected to participate in Cities of Opportunity. Over the next several months, Pittsburgh will be working with nine other local governments specifically in the Cities and Health Systems Community of Practice cohort to assess and address structural, economic, policy and systemic barriers to health equity for marginalized communities. Pittsburgh was additionally selected within the cohort as one of two cities to receive additional support on this community health and safety initiative from the Public Health Institute.
The City of Pittsburgh was selected for the initiative due to the City’s demonstrated commitment to advancing programs, policies and practices that advance health equity in our community. Additionally, the City has a proven track record of bringing together various multi-sector stakeholders committed to improving the health and well-being of all Pittsburgh residents.
OCHS plans to use this opportunity to work with cohort cities to grow the partnership model with the Allegheny Health Network(AHN) Program for Homeless and Urban Poverty Medicine. The model will identify opportunities for cities and health systems to improve health equity and community outcomes. The intention is to create a replicable partnership model to expand the initiative with other valuable health stakeholders citywide.
"The pandemic has exacerbated health and safety inequities in our communities, particularly related to the social determinants of health, trust in systems, accessibility of care, systemic racism and communication within systems and with the community,” said OCHS Manager Laura Drogowski. “We hope to learn from national leaders to be accountable and build a community-driven continuum of support. We believe in the critical mission and foundational work of the AHN Center for Inclusion Health and will focus on the expertise that is already in our community to continue to build our partnerships and better support residents.”
“As part of our ongoing partnership with the City of Pittsburgh to create innovative street outreach models that help mitigate risks posed by the compounding public health crises of homelessness, Allegheny Health Network is extremely pleased and honored to participate in this cohort. We look forward to demonstrating how local governments and health systems can work together to achieve health equity for vulnerable and marginalized populations,” said Dan Palka, Administrative Director, AHN Program for Homeless and Urban Poverty Medicine.
“The root causes of poor health, or the factors influencing how well we live and how long we live, lead to distinct inequities resulting in significant differences in the quality and length of life among residents across the country,” said Sue Polis, Director of Health and Wellness at the National League of Cities. “The National League of Cities is proud to work with the City of Pittsburgh in its efforts to turn this unprecedented time and its myriad of challenges into an opportunity to build a new, bright and more equitable future for all Pittsburgh residents.”
The Cities of Opportunity Community of Practice began in January 2021 and will run through July 2021. The work is generously supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.