The Summit County, Ohio, Health District now includes the Akron Health Department and the Barberton Health District.Over the past few years, Summit County, Ohio, and its cities of Akron and Barberton have developed a reputation for collaboration and partnership to save money, increase efficiencies, avoid duplications and preserve valuable community resources. Early this year, the three governments merged the Akron Health Department and the Barberton Health District with the Summit County Health District, creating a unified, county-wide health district.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for Summit County Executive Russell Pry, says that consolidating Akron and Barberton public health agencies has eliminated redundancies and improved the delivery of services to residents. "The consolidation serves as a model for future consolidation efforts by demonstrating to other public partners how to work through difficult issues involved in consolidations such as personnel, logistical and public perception issues. The consolidation shows that trust and determination are able to bring a collaborative effort to fruition."

Since consolidation, Summit County has seen some immediate results. For instance, through realignment of personnel and regionalization of inspections, food safety sanitarians have been able to increase the number of inspections from 170 to 300 per sanitarian, and have reduced licensing fees charged to restaurants. There has been an increase in mosquito trapping to better test for West Nile Virus. And the number of waste inspections has increased at scrap tire facilities and compost facilities.

"The consolidation achieves the goals of reducing the size of local government and operating local government in a more efficient manner," Dodson says. "It allows for a streamlined public health model that will save taxpayers money over time. Additionally, these improvements in efficiencies allow for improved public health services within Summit County. This improvement in service delivery is the most important aspect of the consolidation, improving the public health and providing better health care to the underserved is the true value and motivation behind this collaboration."