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Health Care Coalitions: Bad Experiences and Dominance

Health Care Coalitions: Bad Experiences and Dominance

There are many reasons why certain coalitions failed.  They may have started out strong and ended up whittling, and others may have never gotten a strong enough wind to get going.  It all depends on what the leadership was like, what the strategies were, and if there were barriers that couldn't be overcome.  Many coalitions have a bad history because of a poorly planned strategy or because it was a mandate and not a passion.  Whatever the cause, the coalition and the cause didn't have a proper chance to reach their goals.  With preparedness, we need all members from all sectors to work together to produce a good response.  If bad experiences are affecting member's willingness to move forward with the coalition, then you have a barrier that needs to be dealt with immediately.  Another barrier that many coalitions face is a dominance of professionals.  If your coalition wants to know how to develop a public information campaign to a specific population and you have had trouble reaching out, your coalition could be facing a domination of professionals' barrier.  Both of these barriers can be overcome, but it means getting over personal feelings and working outside the comforts of our workplace.  Below are some more tips on overcoming these barriers from the University of Kansas, Community Tool Box.
 

Previous Bad Experience
We have all been in groups where the comment has been made, "We've already tried this. It didn't work."  This is a telltale sign of someone who has had a previous bad experience with coalitions or with the lead agency.  A situation like this could require one on one attention.  You can talk to the person to try to understand their point pf view and to gain their thoughts on how to resolve the issue(s).  It's important that the person knows that you're both on the same page.  If the bad experience is at an organizational level, find out the power history between the agencies.  A new coalition may have to contend with this history before it can actually start the work it needs to do.  The real issue may have stemmed from a turf issue 20 years prior, which has convinced them that working with certain others is simply not possible.  To overcome this, you may need to go directly to the director and talk it out.  You may have to do a lot of background work to overcome this barrier.  For the coalition meetings, be sure to create an open and fair process that allows everyone to participate such as setting ground rules and drafting the agendas for the meetings.  Your goal to overcome this is to convince the member that what has happened in the past is in the past.  You are assuring them that as part of the coalition, you're moving forward, and to do that, you will need their skills and cooperation. 

Domination of Professionals

 

Professionals can become a barrier when they dominate the coalition membership.  To the community, the coalition will be viewed as a professional coalition that is only ran by professionals.  Community members will not see the need to be part of something where they don't see a place for themselves.  Many times, the professionals tend to talk about the needs and what populations to target, but they don't include the targeted population or the local agencies that work directly with these specific populations.  A solution may be to provide support for those who aren't used to the "professional" way of holding meetings and making decisions.  Outside of the meetings, train your professionals to make conscious efforts to include outside opinions.  Often, those opinions are far more accurate and important to solving the problem because that opinion came from the specified population.  In this case, they are the experts, so treat them like one.  Another strategy would be to bring in an outside facilitator.  If you choose to facilitate yourself, pay attention to the processes within the group and guide them accordingly.  Coalitions must get involved in gathering ideas from citizens, to work with other citizens to “test out” new ideas before they are implemented.

 

Professionals who are trying to help communities or in our case, work together to prepare, respond, and recover from emergencies, have the best intentions at heart.  Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to anyone not inside the professional world.  We, as professionals, need to take a step back and let others speak for what they consider to have the most value.  Active attempts to recruit citizens from the community are critical to the success of coalitions.  Facing barriers isn't always easy or quick, but with the right knowledge and tools, you'll be able to move forward.

Remember the goal:  Bridge the Gaps to build a strong foundation for greater community resiliency.

Previous Coalition Building Articles:

Resources:

 

 

About Tsoetsy
Tsoetsy, pronounced Cho-Chee, is an Independent Consultant whose focus is in emergency planning, with specialized training in public information and exercise design.  Tsoetsy has worked with public health departments and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)/Community Health Centers (CHCs).  Her vision is to bridge the gaps in preparedness planning by fostering relationships, streamlining processes, providing clear public communication, training, and exercising.  Her motto is "Prepare, Practice, Play!"  Tsoetsy can be reached at tsoetsyh@gmail.com or on LinkedIn.

 

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP


Independent Consultant

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