The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the Washington and Ozaukee County Health Departments an exclusive $75,000 grant. County Executive Joshua Schoemann said Kirsten Johnson, the Director of Ozaukee County and Washington County Public Health Departments, applied for the grant.
“It’s intended to measure the success of health departments as they’re promoting the mergers of health departments throughout the country,” Schoemann said.
Part of the grant, according to Schoemann, will be working through technology issues and the other part will be measuring the success and challenges of the program.
There were only a handful of projects nationwide chosen for this program. Schoemann believed the size of the counties merged programs worked in their favor.
“The grant is also designed to help measure success,” he said. “For us it’s a win, so we’ll know whether we succeed and for them it’s a win because we can replicate it nationwide.”
The grant is titled a Cross Jurisdictional Sharing Implementation and Impact Measurement Program.
“Our merger is unique for the state and the size of it with two counties. It’s all under one program under one umbrella, instead of just shared services,” said Jamie Ludovic, assistant to the County Manager. “This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can be more efficient, we can have smaller government, we can do more with less and we can continue to provide effective services and if we’re able to do that successfully it’s a win win all around.”
The two counties population combined is 240,000.
“The big deal with merging the Ozaukee and Washington County Health Departments will be to get them in sync,” Schoemann said. “We have to change the way people work, and that’s not always easy or convenient.”
In June 2015 the Washington and Ozaukee County boards agreed to merge health departments. That merger took effect Jan. 1, 2016.