The New Jersey Department of Health recently announced over $116.5 million to be allocated towards local public health department infrastructure in counties and townships across the state, and for good reason. As explained by Governor Phil Murphy, “the pandemic highlighted more than ever before just how critical it is for government to invest in public health. A robust network of county and local health departments can make all the difference in helping states identify, address, and respond to public health issues”
In this article, we’ll highlight the key ways grants are to be awarded, and the most effective methods for utilizing these grants to modernize your local health department's workflows and technology.
If you are not located in New Jersey, keep in mind that your state may have similar grant programs and updated regulations, making this post just as relevant for you too!
What Are the NJ Local Public Health Grants?
The state of New Jersey recently announced two grants to be utilized towards improving physical and digital local public health infrastructure.
Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grant
This $75 million dollar grant was created with the goal to, “administer grants to eligible county, municipal and regional local health departments (LHDs) across the state… to support the development or expansion of long-term health infrastructure improvements with a key emphasis on health equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.”
How Are These Funds Being Awarded
State grants are being allocated towards local health departments, “based on a funding allocation formula that accounts for population served and greatest need.” Local governments can prioritize
- access to public health infrastructure across demographics
- digital public health data storage
- automation tedious and time-consuming tasks with public health department software and
- applying lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic when applying for these NJDOH grants
County Health Infrastructure Grant Program
All 21 of the New Jersey county health departments will receive a portion of, “$41.5 million… to continue their efforts in addressing and responding to complex public health emergencies, such as COVID-19 and Monkeypox (hMPXV), emerging local needs, and other key public health priorities.”
How Are These Funds Being Awarded
Grants are to be utilized by local governments to improve physical public infrastructure as well as to make a health department digital transformation to automate workflows and store public health data. County governments can and should work directly with local health departments to recognize the key issues that need to be addressed.
Learn more about how much funding your NJ county is receiving in the Public Health Infrastructure Press Release from the NJ Department of Health.
Why is the NJ State Government Prioritizing Public Health Infrastructure?
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on key issues in existing local public health workflows and infrastructure. To continue addressing global health crises like coronavirus and Monkeypox, and to combat future health threats at the local level, it is clear that public health technology and physical infrastructure needs to be improved upon. As explained by the Union DOH Health Officer Marconi Gapas, “supporting [New Jersey] local health agencies is of utmost importance at this critical time as our communities recover from the pandemic.”
The funds were created to be applied at the county and local level to allow local governments to build strategic plans and apply for grants around the key issues that matter most in their community. Some local public health have aging physical infrastructure whereas others are overdue for government technology and modern public data storage (and many are in need of both!)
You can address whichever public health issues that are the highest priority in your community with these grants. Consider these common Local Government Challenges to work towards overcoming.
What Types of Issues Can Local Public Health Departments Address with Grant Dollars?
Here are more critical details around the key issues county and local NJ health departments are eligible to address with state grant funds:
1. Increased Health Equity & Accessibility
Minorities and impoverished Americans often have the most limited access towards public health services and infrastructure. Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grants are encouraged to be used by LHDs to ,”Increase health equity for disproportionately affected populations,” to, “expand data collection and infrastructure to drive data-driven decision making with an aim to improve equity” as well as, “develop multilingual, culturally-appropriate communications/public health campaigns and share across LHDs.”
Pro Tip: Consider cloud-based public health software to offer online applications for health department related forms, document requests, and digital notifications for critical public health news and information. With disproportionately affected populations tending to have limited access towards local public transportation, digitizing public health forms and information is a strong way to boost accessibility for all and health equity.
2. Use Modern Government Technology to Automate.
There are countless benefits to modernizing digital health infrastructure, from cloud-based health record storage to digital applications and approval / denial of LHD forms, and automated scheduling of health inspections.
The state government is no stranger to the many benefits of pushing local governments towards digital government infrastructure, and wants to give LHDs the opportunity to embrace government digital transformation.
How are other NJ laws pushing local governments digital? Learn more in these guides:
- NJ Electronic Permit Laws
- NJ Lead-Based Paint Inspection Requirements
- NJ Certificate of Liability Insurance Law
3. Improve LHD Strategic Planning and Execution
The Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grants will be awarded to local governments used to, “strengthen organizational capacity to drive progress on public health priorities and increase capacity across LHDs.”
Using online government processes to automate tedious LHD workflows and collect tangible data will make for more informed decision making and faster-moving project timelines. Learn more about Local Government Data Analytics as well as County and Municipal Key Performance Indicators.
4. Apply Lessons From the Pandemic
Grant applications can be used to, “codify institutional knowledge and COVID-specific lessons learned or enhance and / or continue ongoing COVID-19 / communicable disease mitigation efforts.”
Consider the challenges your government needed to overcome in the pandemic, and ways your government could’ve been more prepared ahead of a medical disaster in hindsight, including:
- Distribution of vaccines, COVID-19 tests, STD tests, and other critical medical tests to community-members.
- Distribution of critical public health information (often via digital methodologies like your government social media and website)
- Testing of local waste water to assess how illnesses are spreading locally
- Recruitment of crucial health department officials
For many local governments, understaffing in the LHD posed many problems during the pandemic. Here are helpful tips about Local Government Recruiting and Retaining Public Sector Workers.
How Can Government Software Help Local Health Departments?
Government technology can help in every capacity outlined in the grant application goals, including the key priorities of improved, “health equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.”
Cloud-based Public Health Data Storage
LHD computer systems are a critical aspect of your public health infrastructure. With cloud-based data storage, your public health records will be cyber secure and accessible to both health department officials and citizens alike.
Learn more about the Benefits of the Government Cloud.
Online Health Applications
Health department software integrates with your government website to allow for relevant permit and license applications to be filed and approved / denied digitally. Any citizen or business can file paperwork from a remote location, increasing accessibility and health equity for all, and all of the permitting paperwork will be stored in the cloud.
Government Software Solutions Across Departments allow for any municipal or county forms to be filed online.
Mobile Inspection Technology
Public health officials constantly need to work in the field to inspect local businesses and public areas. Government inspection technology allows for LHDs to complete health inspections in an efficient manner from a government mobile field device like a tablet or phone.
How Can Government Workers Work Remotely? Here’s how to make a hybrid work structure work.
Health Department Automation
Improving LHD organizational efficiency is a key objective of the grants. Government software saves time and money across workflows by automatically
- Storing paperwork and making it accessible in several clicks
- Scheduling heath officials for inspections and other critical tasks
- Streamlining government communications via a digital, text-based platform.
- Sending notifications about critical public health information to citizens.
- Collecting insightful data about workflows, financials, etc. to be used for informed decision-making
Follow along for more tips about Automating Government Workflows.
Improving Your Local Public Health Infrastructure
New Jersey county and municipal governments are posed to modernize their local health department via broad-scoping grants being awarded by the NJ Department of Health. Consider the ways in which your community could improve your public health infrastructure by embracing government technology, modern data storage, health department workflow automation, and health equity.
To learn more about how GovPilot can help, and get paid for via NJ health department grant funds, book a free demo.
NJDOH Local Health Department Grant FAQs
What Are Local Health Department Grants in NJ?
On November 16, 2022, the NJ Department of Health announced over $116.5 million dollars to be invested in local and county health department infrastructure. With an, “emphasis on health equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility,” and, “addressing and responding to complex public health emergencies, such as COVID-19 and Monkeypox (hMPXV), emerging local needs, and other key public health priorities,” the New Jersey Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grants and County Health Infrastructure Grant Programs are meant to transform physical and digital local health infrastructure.
Why is the NJ State Government Encouraging Local Health Departments to Acquire Public Health Technology?
The NJ state government recognizes that government technology like GovPilot wields the power to improve county and local health department workflows across the board.
Here are reasons your NJ county or local government can use Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grants and County Health Infrastructure Grant Programs to invest in government software:
- Store public health records in the cloud for cyber secure storage and easy accessibility for government employees and your citizens alike.
- Automatically schedule health inspections on local businesses and properties
- Record inspections and other field processes on a government tablet or cell phone
- Streamlining permitting and licensing workflows via online forms on your government website.
- Interdepartmental, government-wide, and citizen communications via simplified text-based platform.
Where Are NJ Local Health Department Grants Coming From?
The $75 million dollars from the Enhancing Local Public Health Infrastructure Partner Organization Grants came from the CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) funding. $41.5 million for County Health Infrastructure Grant Programs came from the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund which stems from local government funding outlined in the American Rescue Plan Act.
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