Category Archives: NACCHO
In the latest podcast from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns answers questions about the fact or fiction of the movie alongside the film's scientific consultant and Director of the Center for Infection & Immunity at Columbia University, Dr. Ian Lipkin. Read an excerpt of the podcast transcript below, and listen to the full podcast on the NACCHO website.
>>Related: Read our earlier Q&A with Barbara Reynolds, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis Communication Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director, about the CDC’s role in the movie and crisis communication.
NACCHO: Scott, you’re an expert story-teller, which is something we can learn a lot from in public health. What was so compelling about this public health story for you?
Scott Burns: The most compelling part of this for me was it was the kind of story that kept presenting us with forks in the road. Ian was amazing for me to work with. At the beginning, he said the one thing we now know about nature is almost anything is possible. It was the kind of story where it kept opening up in new ways and new directions in ways that were almost fractal. Every time you made a choice, you got a whole new set of problems to consider and roads to go down.
The American Red Cross Community Resilience Pilot program focuses on building community resilience before a disaster, by enhancing community collective action around preparedness. Jacqueline Yannacci, program manager of community resilience for the Red Cross, spoke about the project at this week’s Public Health Preparedness Summit.
The Red Cross has implemented the community resilience pilot project in five sites—New Orleans, South Mississippi, Miami, Denver and San Francisco. The goal of the pilot is to test the Red Cross’ community engagement strategy. “We typically do a lot of awareness and education around preparedness,” says Yannacci. “But, in the emergency management field the idea of resilience is kind of new, and we wanted to take a look at what this idea of resilience meant for how we work in the community.”
Yannacci, who started her career at the Red Cross with the hurricane recovery program that worked in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, says she saw in that work that it’s not only important to be prepared for the immediate response, but that recovery is a critical part of the disaster cycle. “We asked: what could we do prior to a disaster happening to help increase the community’s ability to bounce back faster?”
It’s no surprise that a plenary session at this week’s Public Health Preparedness Summit is devoted to the devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., last spring. Late in the afternoon on May 22, 2011, a multiple vortex tornado struck Joplin, a city of about 50,000 people. The tornado and its aftermath left 161 dead and more than 900 injured along with the destruction of thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and one of the community's major healthcare facilities, St. John's Medical Center. Public health, health care, and community-based agencies immediately responded to begin planning for the short-, mid-, and long-term needs of that community.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Melissa Friel, Director of the Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, who is a leader in the ongoing recovery effort and a presenter at the Summit.
NewPublicHealth: What are you most proud of about the response to the tornado?
Melissa Friel: It turned out to be the single deadliest tornado in the history of the United States, 162 individuals lost their lives and 713 patients were sent to 42 hospitals in four states requiring quite a robust emergency medical and an emergency response effort.
We partnered in the state robustly and well together, even though tactical communication was a challenge because cell phone towers were down. So we learned a lot of lessons, but we learned really well together and the local emergency staff did a remarkable job. It’s our job at the state level to support their efforts and to be able to provide any assistance that they can’t, and at the state level we turn to the federal system for any assets the state can’t provide. It was really a remarkable effort on behalf of the local, the state and the federal response.
NPH: What are some of the lessons learned?
The 2012 Public Health Preparedness Summit begins tomorrow in Anaheim, Calif. A key focus of the meeting is a close look at preparedness as federal funds diminish and local, state, tribal, and territorial health departments in some cases find themselves faced with the decision to eliminate critical preparedness activities.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Jack Herrmann, Senior Adviser and Chief of the National Association of County and City Health Officials Public Health Preparedness Programs and chair of the summit.
NewPublicHealth: What is critically important at this year’s Summit?
Jack Herrmann: I think what’s critically important is that this year’s theme will focus on the impact of budget cuts and other challenges that local and state public health professionals in the area of preparedness have had to deal with over the last year or so. And so, many of the sessions will be looking at tools and resources and other information to help them consider how to address and overcome some of these challenges.
NPH: What are ways that you’ve seen communities do that?
During the past 10 years, public health professionals have taken significant measures to build and sustain the public health of local health departments and the national preparedness infrastructure to plan for and respond to disasters and other emergencies. Lessons learned after the events of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, have led to increased federal funding and improved communications and community resiliency, larger and better-prepared staff at all levels, greater surge capacity, among other accomplishments in preparedness.
However, economic challenges and shifting priorities have resulted in serious gaps in public health preparedness at every level. This makes showcasing the value of preparedness more critical than ever.
On February 21-24, the Public Health Preparedness Summit 2012 will bring together public health professionals from across the country to identify priorities and gaps and share tools and best practices for preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters and other public health emergencies. NewPublicHealth will serve as the platform for news from the event and in-depth interviews with key leaders including Jack Herrmann, MSEd., NCC, LMHC, Sr. Advisor and Chief of the Public Health Preparedness Program at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and other important stakeholders and decision makers.
In addition to following our coverage, we invite those of you who are involved in public health preparedness and response to share your stories about new efforts that are making a difference in your community. Here are a couple of questions to get you started:
- What is a preparedness project or partnership that shows particular promise in your community?
- How are you maximizing your resources to meet all of your preparedness responsibilities?
>>In the coming weeks, follow NewPublicHealth coverage of the Public Health Preparedness Summit.
>>Share your public health preparedness story in the comments below.
Aaron Wernham, director of the Health Impact Project, a joint project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is leading a health impact assessment training and two sessions on the health impact assessments during the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.
Health impact assessments have only become more widely used in the last few years but are growing in their use by cities, states and community based organizations to identify and address health risks and benefits of decision made outside the health sector.
HIAs, as they are known, are showing great promise as a means to factor health into a wide range of decisions that do not normally focus on health, such as transportation and land use planning, permitting of natural resource development and energy production projects housing projects and policies, and social policies and programs such as living wage and paid sick days legislation, energy assistance, and rental voucher programs. Currently, based on tracking by the Health Impact Project and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 130 HIAs have been completed or are being conducted right now.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Aaron Wernham about the state of HIAs, successes in the field and strategies that will be driving greater use of the tool in the future.
NewPublicHealth: Do you think that many attendees at the APHA meeting will have greater familiarity with the concept of an HIA than they might have a year or two ago?
Dr. Wernham: Absolutely. I think I’ve been giving talks on HIA at the APHA annual meeting since 2007 where I think there was just one session on HIAs at the whole meeting and this year I believe we’re up closer to six or seven groups from around the country coming to talk about HIA. I really think this reflects a lot of the developments that have been going on in the field in the last year.
We had a National Research Council committee that just finished a report on the field in the US and developed a framework and guidance for the practice. I think one of the most important findings of the committee is simply that HIA is a very valuable and promising tool for addressing the health consequences of non-health decision making, decisions made in other sectors like transportation and agriculture and education.
NPH: What sessions are you involved in during the APHA meeting?
Dr. Wernham: I gave a training session on Sunday with our colleagues at Human Impact Partners. One of my sessions is looking at health impact assessment as a tool to help incorporate health into what’s commonly being called nowadays a health in all policies framework. The idea is looking at HIA as a tool to help decision makers outside the health sector factor health in. And I’m giving another talk with a group of HIA practitioners from around the country about the National Research Council’s findings, defining HIA, the steps of HIA, how it’s done, and then they’ll all be providing some examples.
NPH: One interesting session involves the built environment and older adults. Have you seen the issue addressed before?
Update on 10/31: Scott Burris is at APHA and gave an overview this morning at the 2011 APHA annual meeting on how far the initiative has come since its inception two years ago.
The program has funded somewhere between $8 and 9 million dollars in public health law research so far, said Burris, many of which are starting to bear results. Researchers from Boston University School of Law and Harvard Medical School showed that companies that make antibiotics are encouraging the (over)use of those antibiotics by clinicians, a practice which is known to lead to antibiotic resistance.
PHLR is now focused on creating an online research community called SciVal for sharing methods, best practices and advances in the field. (PHLR staff is showcasing this new app at their booth #2060, so stop by to check it out if you’re here in Washington attending APHA). Burris also encouraged the audience to visit the PHLR website to take advantage of a wealth of resources on methods, all meant to guide this burgeoning field.
Public Health Law Research (PHLR), a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program based at Temple University, represents an initiative to promote effective regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public health. The program will have a strong presence at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting this year both during meeting sessions and at the Program’s booth on the exhibit floor. NewPublicHealth spoke with Scott Burris, JD, director of the program, about some of the upcoming presentations and booth demonstrations.
NewPublicHealth: Will you have many research results to show at this year’s APHA Annual Meeting?
Scott Burris: This is now Public Health Law Research at age 2.4 years. We are just starting to get results from our grantees, the people we funded in the first round and a few in the second and we have a number of them appearing at APHA this year. Our booth will have a complete guide to PHLR related events at APHA. Our Methods Core Member, Jeffrey Swanson, a professor at Duke University, is getting the 2011 Carl Taube Award for distinguished contributions to mental health services research. At our the booth, #2060, we’ve got a beta version of our Public Health Law Research Community application, which will eventually capture everybody who’s written in Public Health Law Research and all the papers that have been published. We’ll be demonstrating the app at our booth. We’ll also be showing our brand new seven-minute animated video about PHLR—popcorn included.
NPH: Can you point to some key PHLR research projects that will be presented at the APHA meeting?
William Schaffner, MD, professor and chair of the preventive medicine department at Vanderbilt University, responded to an article on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine with a quote from Voltaire—“perfection is the enemy of the good." The article, published yesterday in Lancet Infectious Diseases, detailed an analysis of previous studies and found that the most commonly used vaccine in the U.S. is about 60 percent effective—somewhat less than had been thought—and that there are no trials on children ages two through 17 and on adults age 65 and older.
Schaffner, who is also a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America says that while the current flu vaccine isn’t fully effective for everyone who gets it, everyone eligible should get the shot because even in cases where it doesn’t prevent the flu, it can minimize serious flu effects including hospitalizations and deaths. “That’s crucial,” says Schaffner. “A healthy person with the flu can go from feeling fine to very ill in the hospital in just 48 hours.”
People have a tendency to disrespect the seriousness of the risk posed by the flu, but they make a mistake, says Paul Etkind, DrPH, senior director for infectious diseases at the National Association of County and City Health Offiicals. From 3,000 to 48,000 people die each year from the flu, depending on how active the season is, says Etkind, and about a quarter of a million people are hospitalized each year.
Today, public health leaders from across the country are gathered in Portland, Ore., for the start of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting, and today’s Opening Session, focuses on the vision for the “new” public health. The Opening Session features perspectives on this vision from the federal, state and local levels.
John Auerbach, MBA, president of ASTHO and commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said this has been a challenging year for public health with budget and staff cuts, but this year has also represented a number of new opportunities, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Community Transformation Grants.
Lillian Shirley, MPH, MPA, president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials and director of Multnomah County Health Department talked about what state and local public health can do together – and why that collaboration is so important. Shirley reflected on the lesson in collaboration learned during the H1N1 outbreak.