MACo President’s Healthy Counties Best Practices Award Nominees

The MACo President’s Healthy Counties Best Practices Award was instituted by 2012 MACo Board President, Prince George’s County Council Member, Ingrid M. Turner, Esq. The award will recognize Maryland county programs that enhance the health of a county through best practices and innovative programs and partnerships that enrich services to citizens while improving upon the fiscal wellness of the county.

Seven counties nominated nine programs for consideration. One rural county winner and one urban county winner will be announced at the Welcoming Session of MACo’s Summer Conference on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 9:00 am at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. For more information on this award, please see our previous blog coverage.

The abstracts of the nominated programs are included here:

 Planning 2.0: Increasing Citizen Involvement with Web-based Maps
Allegany County

Planning 2.0 is a website designed by Allegany County Government’s GIS Office to streamline the public commenting process regarding Land Use designations within the County.  Planning 2.0 encourages citizen and stakeholder participation in the County’s planning process. Users are able to search for a specific property, and view Existing and Projected Future Land Use, and then add a comment to their property through a map and form driven interface.  Comments are considered and addressed in a formalized manner by the Allegany County Planning Division.

Planning 2.0 is an example of Allegany County’s commitment to Best Practices, as it has improved internal workflows for the County while simultaneously allowing the public to have improved access to those workflows and influence the planning process.  The development of the website is an example of the potential within the County and should raise the bar on what can be expected of County staff resources, as the site was developed completely in-house.  The web address for Planning 2.0 is


Virtual Supermarket Program
Baltimore City

The Virtual Supermarket Program (VSP) demonstrates that online grocery delivery is a viable solution to bring healthy and affordable food options to low-income food desert neighborhoods. The VSP enables residents to place grocery orders at their local library, elementary school, senior/disabled housing building or even from their own computer to be picked up at their community site for no delivery cost.  VSP staff provides assistance to residents without computer access or experience. Residents can pay for their groceries using cash, credit, debit and EBT/SNAP (food stamps). To encourage healthy eating, the program provides recipe cards, healthy cooking demonstrations, and a $10 incentive coupon for healthy food. We hope to demonstrate that over 80% of our customers find that the VSP improves their access to healthy and affordable foods. The VSP demonstrates how a public-private partnership between a health department and an independent grocer can bring groceries to food desert communities. To date, the VSP is the only online grocery delivery program that accepts SNAP. Locating supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods is not an option in many areas. The VSP is a solution to not having a store, as it brings high-quality, affordable groceries to the food desert communities, providing residents with the opportunity to purchase healthier foods and make long term diet improvements. The VSP is a replicable model that can be implemented in other urban food desert communities.


County Animal Response Team  (CART)
Charles County

The Charles County C.A.R.T. (County Animal Response Team) is operated under the direction and control of Charles County Department of Emergency Services’ Division of Animal Control.  It is a coordinated effort between government, corporate and private entities dedicated to the preparedness, planning, response, and recovery for animal emergencies in Charles County, Maryland. 

Depending on availability, we may also be available to assist other jurisdictions in Maryland or elsewhere when needed. The initial equipment purchased and used for this program was funded through revenues received for animal licenses and donations.  No general funds from the County were used.  Once the program was up and running, donations and volunteer organized fund raisers have sustained it.

The County’s CART program has participated in many State and Local events since it became functional.  CART has even responded to the state of New Jersey to assist New Jersey Humane Law Enforcement agents and the Humane Society of the United States in removing and transporting 90 dogs/puppies and 8 cats from an alleged non-conforming puppy mill operation.


Charles County Marine Unit
Charles County

The Charles County Marine Unit is an all hazards, joint operational program sponsored by the Charles County Department of Emergency Services (CCDES) and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).  Its primary focus is maritime and port security missions in support of the Maryland Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG).  Since the Unit is a collaborative effort between two agencies with separate missions, it is comprised of a diversified core group of team members which serve to accomplish a true all hazard response. 

To this date, nearly all of the operational budget for the Unit has been funded through a combination of  Homeland Security and Port Security Grant Funds.  Currently the Marine Unit boasts 50 collateral duty team members from either the CCDES or CCSO.  Job duties range from tactical boat operators, boat crewmen, rescue swimmers, tactical paramedics, tactical operators, K-9’s, K-9 Handlers and hazardous materials technicians.   Training for these specific job functions was culmination of previously acquired skills from current job assignments and those acquired through specialized training funded through grants.

The Charles County Marine Unit has participated in several Federal, State and Local missions since it became fully operational.  Of recent the Marine Unit participated in the USCG sponsored Operation Parasite which took place in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and is currently making plans to assist with the Maryland bi-centennial celebration of the War of 1812.


Garrett County Early Care System of Care
Garrett County

Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and being a good parent does not always come naturally. Garrett County Early Care Programs are a System of Care designed to support emotional and physical health, and self-sufficiency in young families and to encourage healthy children who enter school ready to learn. Services are voluntary and free of charge.

The system incorporates four evidence based home visiting programs including: Healthy Families, Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers and Early Head Start. Additional supports are incorporated including: the Triple P “positive parenting program” which assists parents to find solutions to child behavioral challenges, testing and tutoring in adult basic education to obtain a Maryland GED or External Diploma, assistance to enroll in and retain Medicaid or MCHP, lactation education and consultation, child birth education, socialization/play date activities, “warm line” phone support, Children with Special Health Care Needs Nurse Case Management, and a lending library and linkage to other community programs.

Home visits focus on physical and emotional health, nutrition, child emotional and physical development, life course development, and creating a safe environment. Through home visits, therapeutic relationships are built, and support is provided building on client strengths and promoting self-empowerment to assure healthy families, the foundation of healthy communities.


The DOOR to Healthcare
Howard County

In January 2010, the Howard County Health Department and Healthy Howard, Inc., implemented the “Door to Healthcare” in an effort to improve how healthcare is accessed among uninsured populations. The Door utilizes a unique web application, One-e-App, to help individuals navigate available health care options (Maryland Children’s Health Program; Primary Adult Care; Medical Assistance for Families; and the Healthy Howard Health Plan) through an efficient, “one-stop shop” process.   Individuals either sit down with a counselor or work alone at a private kiosk and enter personal data (including:  family make-up, income, etc) into a system which displays eligible programs that the individual and/or his or her family members can instantly apply for.  The goal of the Door to Healthcare is to help take the guesswork out of finding the right healthcare for individuals and their families.  Howard County is the first region on the East Coast to pilot One-e-App, which came as part of a federal recommendation to improve how healthcare is accessed.   To date, more than 7,000 Howard County residents have been served by The Door to Healthcare and have been connected to care. 


Safe Transitions – Managing Hospital Discharge for Residents Who are Homeless
Montgomery County 

The Safe Transitions program was developed by the Montgomery County Health Care for the Homeless program staff in collaboration with the five hospitals in the County.  The program was designed to ensure that homeless patients receive necessary medical and transition support upon release from the inpatient setting, and to assist hospitals in determining the appropriate housing arrangements for homeless patients being discharged from inpatient care.   Hospitals have received tools to plan for patient discharge and are assisted by County Homeless Health nursing staff in assessing level of care and the most appropriate housing setting post-discharge.  Arrangements are made for follow-up for medical and/or psychiatric care, for needed medications, for transfer of medical records, and for clothing or other basic needs that must be provided prior to discharge.

 When the program began, the five area hospitals were identifying only a few dozen discharged patients as homeless. Arrangements for post-discharge care were largely left to the patient or his/her housing provider.  Following implementation of the program, nearly 200 discharges of homeless patients are collaboratively managed by hospital discharge planning staff and the County’s Homeless Health nursing staff each year.  This has lead to a significant improvement in housing stability of homeless patients and a reduction in hospital re-entry post discharge.


Community Partnering Program
Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation developed an innovative Community Partnering Program designed to engage its County’s greatest assets:  residents, Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs), civic and faith-based leaders and business owners to serve as partners and unofficial “inspectors” on behalf of the department.   Whether traveling through their communities or elsewhere in the County, nearly 1,000 partners, who have participated in discussion meetings to gain a better understanding of the services provided by the department, are dispatched to and on the “lookout” for roadway concerns ranging from potholes, sidewalk trip hazards and downed signs to snow removal, mowing/tree trimming needs and illegal dumping sites.  Partners then report to designated staff what they have found, which allows staff to address the concerns before they can become major problems.  This process helps in reducing complaints and providing for more efficient service delivery.  Partners also assist in: clearing roadways of trash and debris through an Adopt-A-Road Program; removing illegally posted signs (litter on a stick); enhancing County aesthetics through beautification and reforestation projects; and reporting concerns associated with vacant or foreclosed homes. The Community Partnering Program benefits everyone who lives, works, prays or visits within Prince George’s County.         


Comprehensive Summer Crime Initiative
Prince George’s County, Maryland

The 2011 Summer Crime Initiative began on May 22, 2011 and concluded September 1, 2011.  For four months, the Initiative took an intensive multidisciplinary approach to reducing violent crime by concentrating traditional police resources in areas identified by data analysis as persistently plagued by violence and innovatively partnering them with representatives from every component of County government.  The broad strategy was to achieve permanent “structural” reductions in crime defined as a significant reduction that is durable, being maintained by a dual focus on offender and environment that prevents recurrence. As with all prior crime reduction initiatives, the Summer Crime Initiative began with an offender centered enforcement model and then the scope of activities was broadened to include addressing a variety of contributing factors found in the environment in which they operated such as illicit nightclubs. Environmental factors identified by the police officers conducting enforcement operations were referred to the appropriate agencies within the County during a weekly coordination meeting. Once a factor was identified, solutions were crafted and implemented collaboratively and were tracked by the team until resolved.

 It should be noted that due to fiscal limitations, police patrol resources were reallocated for the Summer Crime Initiative during their normal tours of duty.  This eliminated the need for overtime funding in patrol for this effort and the following results were achieved within the budget established for police patrol operations.

The Initiative resulted in County government as a whole reducing violent crime by -12.2% in 2011, or slightly less than twice the national average as noted in the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report which cites the reduction nationally in 2011/2010 as -6.4%*.

 *FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report January-June 2011, Table 3 available at, cjis/ucr.


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