Now Viewing: Public health

When Springtime Turns Ugly: Public Health and Disaster Preparedness

Jun 6, 2014, 11:24 AM, Posted by Beth Toner

MOYER_110506_13128 EMOTIONAL AFTERMATH: A resident of Alabama, overwhelmed by the sight of her ruined home after tornadoes struck at the end of April, 2011.

Ah, springtime: especially welcome for those of us who experienced a particularly harsh winter. Spring often conjures up images of blossoming trees and blue skies, freshly cut grass and picnics.

Yet in May, several anniversaries of devastating natural disasters reminded us that springtime can also bring with it some of nature’s most violent weather phenomena:

  • On May 20, Moore, Okla., marked the first anniversary of the devastating tornado that killed 24, including seven children at an elementary school. It was the second EF-5 tornado to strike the city in 15 years; the May 3, 1999, tornado left 46 dead.
  • In Joplin, Mo., residents remembered the May 22, 2011, EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people.
  • On May 31, Johnstown, Pa,., observed the 125th anniversary of the devastating flood that leveled the entire city and killed 2,209.

While improved warning systems and 21st century technology have certainly played a role in reducing the number of lives Mother Nature’s temper tantrums claim, the fact remains that these events have a substantial impact on our health as a nation.

We recently talked to Paul Kuehnert, director, Bridging Health and Health Care portfolio—as well as a pediatric nurse practitioner and longtime state and local health official—to get his thoughts about the role public health plays in helping us prepare for, cope with, and learn from natural disasters.

View Full Post

"It's Good to Know the Red Cross is There"

Apr 11, 2014, 5:06 PM, Posted by Jeff Meade

Northern New Jersey American Red Cross volunteers Hart Coven and Bob Hassmiller Northern New Jersey American Red Cross volunteers Hart Coven and Bob Hassmiller (photo by Jeff Meade)

The emergency response vehicle (ERV) fielded by the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey is all gleaming white with shining chrome, flashing lights, diesel engine chugging away, the distinctive Red Cross logo emblazoned on its sides, larger than life.

The truck itself is about the size of a small delivery van, but even with a pair of comfortable padded seats, the inside looks roomy. But don't be fooled. Each of the red plastic insulated crates stacked like Lego bricks up toward the front of the truck can contain 50 hot meals. That’s a lot of mac and cheese. Up to 350 meals in all on a really busy night. There's enough coffee and juice to revive and hydrate exhausted firefighters for hours. Volunteers can give out a good many compact little "comfort kits," containing toiletries and other day-to-day necessities.

And of course, there are blankets—the big, warm white ones, also bearing the Red Cross symbol. The kind you see on local TV news, draped around the shoulders of folks driven from their  apartment complex by an overnight multi-alarm blaze.

View Full Post

Five Simple Things to Do Today to be Prepared for an Emergency

Apr 7, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Sean D. Andersen

new jersey red cross fire photo

What if your doorbell rings tonight, and a policeman tells you your neighbor’s home is on fire and you and your family must get out of the house immediately?

What if a family member starts choking at the dinner table?

What if a tornado warning is issued at this very moment?

Although scary to imagine, all of the above are realistic scenarios families face here in New Jersey, and throughout the United States. Would you know what to do? Are you prepared?

Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. Being prepared and knowing what to do in an emergency can make all the difference—it can even save lives.

View Full Post

County Health Rankings: Five Key Elements of The Picture of Health

Mar 28, 2014, 10:16 AM, Posted by Susan Dentzer

Behind the County Health Rankings: What makes a county healthy or unhealthy?
Skip Rope

Paint a portrait of a healthy county, and you’d show the features that contribute to good health: high incomes and levels of education; access to health care; plentiful healthy food, and ample places to exercise.   

Paint a portrait of an unhealthy county, and the palette becomes darker: higher rates of joblessness; more children in poverty; high rates of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity; and more people living in sub-par housing that they may struggle to afford. 

Those, in fact, are the real portraits emerging from the 2014 County Health Rankings, newly released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

View Full Post

A Culture of Health Vision at TED 2014

Mar 20, 2014, 6:00 PM, Posted by Culture of Health Blog Team

Leigh Rowan adds his culture of health building block at TED 2014. Photo by Bret Hartman. Leigh Rowan adds his culture of health building block at TED 2014. Photo by Bret Hartman.

This week we’re thrilled to bring the conversation about a culture of health to TED, the annual conference dedicated to spreading innovative ideas from all sectors of society. At RWJF we believe that our health involves far more than health care; it also extends to how we work, how we live, our families and our communities. We are passionate about collaborating with others to cultivate a culture of health, where being healthy and staying healthy is valued by our entire society. (Read more about RWJF’s vision for a culture of health.)

To that end, we are bringing our vision to TED. RWJF staffers led a master class at TED earlier in the week about designing and building a culture of health, and we are hosting the RWJF Café, where an interactive display invites people to answer the question, “What does a culture of health mean to you?” We’ve been sharing highlights on Twitter using the #cultureofhealth hashtag, and would love for you to join the conversation, either on Twitter or in the comments on this post.

Here are some of the responses we’ve gotten at TED so far:

View Full Post

We Are All in This Together

Feb 11, 2014, 4:41 PM, Posted by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

presidents_message_billboard_v0.1

Building a culture of health means recognizing that while Americans’ economic, geographic, or social circumstances may differ, we all aspire to lead the best lives that we can.

For the Foundation, it also means working hand-in-hand with all Americans to inform the dialogue and build demand for health by pursuing new partnerships, create new networks to build momentum, and stand on the shoulders of others striving to make America a healthier nation.

Learn more in our President’s Message
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

 

 

And the Winner is … Streetlights, for Applying Big Data to Community Health

Jan 15, 2014, 12:41 PM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Cropped Streetlight project

Big data, the buzzword of choice these days in information technology, holds the promise of transforming health care as programmers and policy-makers figure out how to mine trillions of ones and zeros for information about the best (and worst) health practices, disease and lifestyle trends, interconnections, and insights. The problem is, where to start? To jump start the process, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation joined in a Knight News Challenge: Health and issued its own call to developers to come up with innovative ways to combine public health and health care data, with a $50,000 prize to the best idea.

The results are in. When the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the winners of its News Challenge for ideas focused on unlocking the power of health data on January 15—you can see the list here—we also announced the winner of our companion prize for the best entries who combined public health data with data from health care to improve the health of communities. Our first place winner is the Streetlights Project from Chicago.

View Full Post

Knight Foundation News Challenge: Looking for a Few Great Data-Leveraging Ideas

Sep 9, 2013, 11:59 AM, Posted by Culture of Health Blog Team

11_06_30_HealthFair_RWJF_4_5093

On August 19, we announced a new $100,000 prize as part of the Knight Foundation’s latest News Challenge, which seeks innovative ideas to harness information and data for the health of communities. The RWJF award is for those entrants who combine public health data with other types of population data to improve the health of communities. The Knight Foundation has committed $2 million to the contest as well.

The entries phase opened this week, and, as of this writing, 34 entries have already been submitted! We asked Paul Tarini, senior program officer for the Pioneer Portfolio, and Anne Weiss, senior program officer and team director of the Quality/Equality team, to reflect on the 105 ideas shared during the initial inspiration phase:

Paul commented:

“I liked the idea about linking health and housing data to improve the provision of social services, health services and housing support to people who are homeless. I also liked the vision for CHEER from Miami-Dade County, which is trying to link kids’ education and health data to improve outcomes for children and inform policy. Similarly comes an idea from Virginia to link datasets from the Health Department on birth issues, early childhood health conditions, and maternal health conditions to social service data and educational outcomes.

My question to everyone who submitted ideas during the inspiration phase: Can you actually get the data you’re interested in using? And, how will you make the data actionable?”

Anne adds:

“I have to say that a lot of what I saw wasn’t exactly what I expected. I saw apps and technology that used ONE source of data. There were a number that did combine data, but I couldn’t get a very specific sense of what data they’d combined and how it would be used.

The ones that excited me, if I read them right, were the ones about combining data on grocery store purchasing with primary care data, as well as the idea related to Trenton public transit.These seemed to me to be fresh, to address social determinants of health, and to leverage the power of different types of data. What I especially liked about these is that they have some interested, committed partners at the table who want the project to succeed, and they’ve got at least an early notion of specifics—what they will do and how they’ll do it.”

Be sure to keep an eye on the Knight News Challenge page to see the ideas being submitted—and if YOU have a bright idea you’d like to submit, be sure to do it soon. The challenge closes on Sept. 17; that’s just 11 days away!

Move Over, Richard Kiley. Here’s Why We Want to Combine Public Health Data with Health Care Data

Aug 19, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Calit2

We’re announcing today a new $100,000 prize as part of the Knight Foundation’s latest News Challenge, which seeks innovative ideas to harness information and data for the health of communities. The RWJF award is for those entrants who combine public health data with data from health care to improve the health of communities. The Knight Foundation itself has committed $2 million to the contest, as well.

The reason we want to combine public health data with health care data is because of the potential the combined data has to drive real improvements and innovation. When we were discussing this, one of my colleagues broke out with “To dream the impossible dream.” While he couldn’t match Kiley’s sonorous baritone, he did capture the ambition in the song.

View Full Post

Thank You for Your Health

Jul 30, 2013, 2:18 PM, Posted by Jody L. Struve

Fall River Fitness Challenge_Close

Here at RWJF, we are looking everywhere for good ideas. The other day, I found inspiration in a typo: “Thank you for your health,” a colleague signed her email, when she meant to write help.

I thanked her back: “Thank you for your health, too!”  And, as I hit reply, amused by my little joke, I realized my smile was connected to something deeper than simple wordplay—I felt, for that moment, like a good citizen.

Now admittedly, I’m someone who can get goose bumps when reminded of our basic humanity by a politely held open door. But thanking someone for their health, especially after just being recognized appreciatively for mine, snapped into focus how our health, our own personal health and what we do with it, impacts everyone around us—as clearly as tossing an empty can into the recycling bin.

We each have an active role to play in being good health citizens.

View Full Post