Dr. Howard Zucker clicked a computer mouse, and a roomful of health officials erupted in applause Friday morning.
The moment wasn't as dramatic as breaking a Champagne bottle across the bow of a new ship, but it galvanized dozens of officials gathered at the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council office in Hauppauge.
They were there to watch Zucker, the deputy state health commissioner, launch the website for the new Long Island Health Collaborative.
As part of a state mandate, representatives from the Island's 24 hospitals, both county health departments, academic centers and community groups began meeting a year ago to key in on top health problems.
The collaborative is the first time the counties and hospitals have partnered in such an extensive way, officials said.
The idea is to get local health officials and experts sharing resources and best practices, figuring out what works and giving people simple, effective tools to improve their health. The group hasn't received any funding, although it has applied for grants.
"You are doing exactly what the commissioner wants -- working together to look at the community," Zucker said, referring to the state health commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah.
The group will initially focus on two areas: chronic diseases, especially those related to obesity; and mental health and substance abuse.
Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said that while Nassau's overall obesity rate is lower than the state's, there are certain communities where rates "are much higher than they should be."
According to the latest county figures, 23.2 percent of New Yorkers are obese, compared with 17.4 percent in Nassau and 20.9 percent in Suffolk.
The collaborative, Eisenstein said, will help target those communities. "This is the supreme public-private partnership."
Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said that about half the population has at least one chronic disease.
The collaborative has already developed and tried out a questionnaire to assess how those with chronic diseases perceive their illnesses; it then will measure how their behavior changed after various programs.
The collaborative's website -- nshc.org/long-island-health-
collaborative/ -- contains information about obesity, chronic diseases and mental health. As it evolves, it will become a clearinghouse on programs and activities that promote health, said Janine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.
The collaborative's website -- nshc.org/long-island-health-collaborative/ -- contains information about obesity, chronic diseases and mental health. As it evolves, it will become a clearinghouse on programs and activities that promote health, said Janine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.Kevin Dahill, chief executive of the hospital council, called the collaborative "invigorating."
"Most days we're reactive," he said. "This is a proactive project."