Building partnerships with the community: lessons from the Camden Health Improvement Learning Collaborative.

This case study describes the Camden City Health Improvement Learning Collaborative (the Collaborative), a community care network initiative formed in 1993. The organization is composed of representatives from local healthcare providers, public agencies, religious organizations, and neighborhoods. The major goal of this initiative is to improve the health status of the community by involving and empowering residents in the solution of their needs. The Collaborative represents a grassroots strategic model of community inclusion in the formulation of goals and programs to improve community health status. The case study describes the dynamics of the Collaborative by examining the following: historical development; political, institutional, and social context; planning process; organization and structure; and performance evaluation. The article concludes with a discussion of the strategic and operational lessons learned from the Collaborative.