Philadelphia is a large, diverse city facing many public health challenges. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) will use this grant opportunity to create sustainable transformations across our workforce, foundational capabilities, and data infrastructure to help us support and improve the health of all Philadelphians. These investments are critical to building a more modern, equity-focused public health agency prepared to face emerging public health challenges. While PDPH’s workforce has performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic, we face high turnover and difficulty recruiting for some positions. We have 186 vacancies, 109 of which are in our city health centers. Six of seven members of our executive team and 11 of 14 division directors are new in the past 18 months. Our new team is diverse, well qualified, and committed to the future of the department, but still needs leadership and management training to ensure that PDPH provides mentorship and professional development opportunities equitably. PDPH proposes to improve recruitment, retention, and training of a diverse public health workforce; strengthen our foundational capabilities, focusing on community collaboration and equity; and develop modernized processes for data management, analysis, and visualization, allowing our team to quickly deliver insights to guide public health planning and implementation. Over five years, PDPH will hire at least 120 staff members; train, mentor, and support PDPH staff members to improve retention and build a skilled public health workforce for the future; and invest in flexible, connected, cloud-ready data systems and infrastructure.
PDPH will hire a Workforce Director who will lead a systematic workforce assessment and identify priority needs to develop evidence-based training, recruitment, and retention activities for all our staff. We will assess the skills and interests of temporary staff hired for COVID-19 to transition to permanent civil service or embedded staff positions. Our training opportunities will be informed by a review of evidence-based public health training, mentoring, and coaching options in collaboration with community partners to support staff at all levels to improve their skills and professional satisfaction. We will also expand our paid internship programs to create pipeline internship programs in collaboration with Community College of Philadelphia, HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions. The Health Commissioner will oversee the grant to ensure coordination with existing CDC-funded work.
A2 Foundational Capabilities
PDPH was reaccredited in 2022; however, the need to strengthen community relationships and collaborations was identified. Struggles with equity early in the COVID-19 pandemic led to a commitment to center equity in all of our work, including by hiring our first Chief Racial Equity Officer (CREO). With this funding, we would hire additional staff to support the CREO. We would invest in preparedness so PDPH and community partners are ready for the next public health emergency, using an equity-focused strategy that assumes that the greatest need will be among those already most burdened. We would also hire a fiscal consultant to review current practices, hire a grant writer, and expand internal and external communications capacity.
A3 Data Modernization
PDPH will invest in capacity, training, and technical infrastructure to build modern and robust data infrastructure that is flexible and scalable, connected, resilient, cloud-native, and ready to respond quickly and efficiently to emerging public health challenges. We will hire a Data Modernization Director to lead and coordinate data modernization efforts, and a Public Health Informatics Specialist to operationalize these efforts. We will assess current capacities, gaps, and opportunities to modernize data systems and infrastructure, and create agile-focused implementation plans to address gaps and maximize opportunities.