Health Care Coalitions:  Failure To Act

Health Care Coalitions: Failure To Act

Every coalition starts out with a bang.  Unless there are immediate results, there will be some members that find other things to do, and others who will stay because they truly are dedicated or simply because they are paid to.  Whichever the case may be, you as a coalition leader have people at your table who came to work.  They came to fulfill the original goal:  Effective Community Emergency Preparedness & Response.  So what happened?

Coalitions thrive on having goals, plans, and results.  A solid coalition will have a foundation built with the plans already in place.  Many grassroots operations start with base planning and building the foundation, but with a healthcare coalition focused on emergency response, many of these plans should already be developed.  If your healthcare coalition hasn't already started and this really is the beginning for you, start with a Coalition Advisory Work group.  This will be a planning group before the actual healthcare coalition comes together.  The advisory group will be your planning team of 5-7 people that develop the more detailed plans, so that when you are ready for action, you can start a full fledged coalition that is ready to go.  We need to remember that the point of a coalition is to create change and make our communities better.  If the focus is spent on planning and there are no results, the members will be unable to see the "fruits of their labor."  The coalition will have lost its purpose, and if not addressed in a timely manner, the coalition will eventually fizzle out.

If you're in this position right now, don't fret.  It's never too late to make a change for the better.  Take this opportunity to re-think and re-organize the way you're thinking about this coalition, and re-build it properly.  Think about the things that make a coalition successful, outside of money:

  • Participating members.  Do you have members that don't participate?  If so, maybe you need find out the real reason why or look for another representative.  If the reason is based on lack of time, it wouldn't be a bad idea to suggest for a replacement.  If it's boredom, keep reading as I have some tips to share.
  • A clear plan of action.  If there is no plan or too many, there is no clear plan of action.
  • Results.  Too much time planning with no results, can show a lack of commitment, planning, leadership, or even advocacy.

Tips for a result-driven coalition:

  • Lay out an overarching strategy that includes the coalition mission and overall objectives.  This should only take a couple of months to complete and get approved.
  • Each objective that needs to be completed should have an action group.  Have each action group develop a work plan to complete the designated objective.  For example, if the objective is to work on volunteer management to assist with surge, the action group would:
    • Develop sub-objectives on what's required to complete the overall objective.
    • Outline a month by month work plan, stating what actions will be completed each month.
    • Compile a summary/AAR on each sub-objective completed.
  • Assign coalition members to complete certain tasks.  Don't be afraid to ask someone, "Can you handle this?"
  • Increase communication to your community.  Delegate someone to draft an e-mail blast, newsletter, or report to share with participating agencies, the state health department, or even the federal level (e.g. HHS, CDC, etc.).  Whatever your success is, SHARE IT.
  • Don't forget to include trainings.  Provide specific training that your coalition members need in order to complete their objectives.
  • Conduct an exercise.  While I would love this personally, I know many don't.  As a healthcare coalition, you need to be more trained and more involved in the emergency response process.  Don't waste an opportunity to practice before you have to really play.

As leaders of a coalition, we need to remember what our overarching goals are.  We have objectives, action plans with measurable goals, and action groups.  So what's the take home message?  We have stuff to do!  Share the load.  No one wants to spend their valuable time working on a project with no results.  Stay tuned for next month's topic--Lack of Organizational Capacity.


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


Previous Coalition Building Articles:



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 or on LinkedIn.

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Independent Consultant

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In all we do, we seek to reduce human suffering and loss of life caused by disasters.

We get it done by connecting the preparedness efforts of healthcare organizations, emergency management agencies, and public health departments through effective, financially self-sustaining healthcare coalitions.

Yes, we believe healthcare coalitions are the path forward.

Karl Schmitt, Passionate Founder & CEO, bParati

Karl SchmittPassionate Founder & CEO

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