Case Study

Example IconIn one primary care and public health collaboration, Sheila Browne was the organizational leader at the senior executive level of a local health authority: She had a background in public health and primary care and could see the strengths and challenges of each sector. As the executive, she had a vision for bringing the two sectors together in various programs to decrease duplication of services and improve client outcomes.

Vision and Commitment
In particular, she had a vision for the organization of breaking down the silos between primary care and public health. This would allow each sector to learn more of what the other was doing and capitalize on one another’s strengths. Sheila had an unwavering belief that such a collaboration would enable clients and families to access the services that they needed more easily.

Regular Communication
Sheila implemented monthly bi-sectoral collaboration meetings and invited a wide range of partners to participate. Consistent with her executive’s vision, the public health staff and nurse practitioners were able to deliver health promotion, health education, and primary care services at local high schools.

Ongoing Training

For one initiative at the executive level, Sheila arranged for the public health nurses to be trained to perform full physical assessments on newborn babies during home visits. This type of assessment was generally performed by primary care nurses. With extending this skill to include public health nurses, it provided a support to parents who otherwise would not have this service available to them as they did not have a family physician.

In her role as the organizational leader, Sheila was integral to driving the collaboration forward and sustaining its momentum. She built constructive relationships with both primary care and public health staff. These trusting and inclusive relationships developed by this leader provided a leverage to inspire the staff for buy-in of her bi-sectoral vision. With her efforts, Sheila fit the profile of a ‘champion’ of collaboration yet, during this endeavour, she faced many challenges.

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Related: Trusting and Inclusive Relationships



Although the vision was embraced by most staff, there were a few members with employment seniority who resisted the collaborative efforts and their attitude provided roadblocks for bi-sectoral collaboration. Sheila sought to address this resistance by listening to their concerns and employing a transformative leadership style, as well as, a consistent motivational management approach.

A high turnover of staff was another of the many challenges Shelia faced. She needed to ensure that the newest staff members were fully aware of the bi-sectoral collaboration. To accommodate this, she made the effort to share the vision with new people on an ongoing basis as new staff arrived at the organization.

This case demonstrates that the context of collaboration can limit a collaborative process yet the positive impact that a leader can have on the process as a champion for collaboration.

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