Community Health and Service Missions

Community Health and Service Missions: Bridging the Chasm of Health Disparities across the Nation

The United States Public Health Service’s (USPHS) Community Health and Service Missions (CHASM)* program is designed to bridge the chasm of health disparities, protect the health of all Americans and provide essential human services for those who are least able to help themselves. This program helps underserved and vulnerable populations in the United States, by fostering collaborations among local, state, tribal and federal governments, with active participation from local volunteers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The CHASM program is an innovative, cost-effective way for efficiently utilizing the USPHS, a highly mobile collection of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) whose mission is to protect, promote and advance the health of the nation. CHASM is particularly transformative because it creates the ability to bring in multidisciplinary experts from across federal agencies (EPA, FDA, HRSA, USDA, BOP, IHS, SAMHSA, CDC, OMH, DOD, etc.) under one umbrella, enhancing knowledge and services provided. USPHS officers provide expertise in environmental health, epidemiology, toxicology, program administration and development, dental, veterinarian, nursing, primary care, mental health, preventive medicine, and applied public health care. This unique composition of USPHS teams, in combination with CHASM, enhances transferability and scalability to address the specific needs of a community.

In 2010, CHASM provided $1 million worth of services affecting thirty-eight counties in four states within seven weeks. In conjunction with nongovernmental organizations, academia, local health departments, and volunteers, CHASM provided 4,737 services and procedures that included health, dental, and eye care, as well as veterinary services and health education. In addition, the CHASM program in Maryville, TN helped identify a smelter site that was declared an EPA Superfund project, for which $2.6 Million was allocated for cleanup efforts. In 2011, CHASM increased its impact by providing $1.85 million worth of services affecting 500,000 people in four states through SMEs providing environmental assessments and direct health care services.

In addition to successfully building capacity and training our nation’s public health workforce, CHASM boasts an impressive return on investment (ROI). For every dollar invested in a CHASM project, at least 2 dollars of services are rendered. This makes the ROI much greater than the cost of the initial investment. In reality, the ROI actually exceeds this dollar value as it fosters local participation and community ownership. USPHS has found that the more involved the community is with determining and addressing their health care needs, the more successful the outcome of the mission.

In early February 2012, CHASM convened a collaborative meeting with multiple federal agencies (EPA, FDA, HRSA, USDA, BOP, IHS, SAMHSA, CDC, OMH, DOD, etc.) to discuss opportunities for partnership by identifying overlapping strategic goals that result in reducing health disparities and improving environmental health. One example of this collaboration would be by utilizing USPHS officers to help meet the strategic goals of sister agencies while helping the USPHS meet its goal of emergency response training. CHASM will continue to grow by partnering with these federal agencies and collaborating in the Federal Interagency Health Equity Team (FIHET).

CHASM meaningfully and purposefully incorporates technology, in the form of Responder eLearn, a web-based, public health training platform. Responder eLearn is utilized in CHASM in order to increase stakeholder involvement in the development phase through the tool’s community forums, measure outcomes through survey distribution, as well as providing just in time training in the days prior to the mission.

CHASM is highly innovative because it provides an avenue for USPHS officers to train for emergency response while also promoting and advancing health infrastructure in underserved communities. This flagship initiative unites multidisciplinary USPHS officers to respond, collaborate, and participate with local, state, tribal, and NGO groups in an effort to address this nation’s most pressing public health needs. Upon return, these officers are able to share their newly acquired knowledge and leadership skills with their home agencies, which further facilitate interagency transparency.

For more information on CHASM related projects please contact OFRD-Training@hhs.gov.

For more information on CHASM, follow this link.