Dan Stier: Network for Public Health Law Sneak Preview Webinar

Jun 18, 2012, 9:15 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

On Thursday June 21 from 1 to 2 p.m. (EST) the Network for Public Health Law will be holding a free webinar to preview the Network’s upcoming 2012 Public Health Law Conference: Practical Approaches to Critical Challenges to be held in Atlanta, October 10 through 12. Register for the webinar by 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 19.

The webinar offers a "sneak preview into three of the topics to be covered in depth during the conference: toxic exposures, emergency planning for vulnerable populations and electronic health records." Kathleen Dachille, JD, director of the Network for Public Health Law – Eastern Region and faculty member of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, will discuss policy changes and efforts to reduce toxic exposures, including exposure to secondhand smoke and pesticides in multiunit housing, and children’s lead exposure in homes.

Rebecca Polinsky, JD, research and practice fellow in the Public Health Law Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will discuss characteristics of older adults that make them more vulnerable in an emergency and the legal options to help protect them and other vulnerable populations, and Sharona Hoffman, JD, LL.M., professor of law and bioethics and co-director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, will review the use of electronic health records for public health purposes, as well as the legal and ethical implications of EHR and state and federal perspectives on electronic health information exchange.

NewPublicHealth spoke with Dan Stier, director of the Network for Public Health Law, about the upcoming webinar and the conference in October.


Dan Stier, Network for Public Health Law

NewPublicHealth: What’s the goal of the webinar?

Dan Stier: We want to whet peoples’ appetites for the upcoming conference, where the theme is “Practical Approaches to Critical Challenges.” The planning committee was made up of a couple of dozen people engaged in public health law, including people working on the local, state and federal level, academics and attorneys and advocates. The conference will have six tracks:

  • Prevention and promotion at the community level, such as toxic exposures in the home, which is a webinar topic, and injury prevention laws
  • Changes and challenges to public health infrastructure, such as accreditation and shared service delivery
  • Challenges to public health authority such as preemption and first amendment issues
  • Protection and security, such as emergency preparedness issues and food safety
  • Skills building and competencies such as interaction between attorneys and public health practitioners
  • Data collection and storage

NPH: Who do you expect to be at the conference in the Fall?

Dan Stier: We are trying to get a very nice mix of public health officials, attorneys, advocates and academics. With tight budgets, we will be challenged to draw all the participants we might otherwise, but there is strong interest in the conference. For that reason, one my main tasks is to identify funding sources to provide the opportunity to bring many people to the conference.

We’ve chosen speakers with very deep knowledge, background and experience.

NPH: Can you tell us about the response to the expertise provided by the Network since its launch almost two years ago?

Dan Stier: We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of requests for one on one technical assistance on a wide variety of public health issues. And we’ve led over 100 lectures and presentations as a result of relationship building activities. I’m not surprised at the level of interest, but I am gratified and satisfied.

NPH: Have you been able to help policy-makers better understand the intersection of health and law?

Dan Stier: Yes, we’re helping to connect the dots. We’re working to build the field of public health law, and we’ve had a fantastic start, such as pulling together people in policy who may not have had a handle on what law can do for them.

NPH: What expertise have you added since the launch of the Network?

Dan Stier: We had a strong set of issues when we began, but topics we’ve added expertise on, and information on our website, in response to requests, include maternal and child health issues. Specific issued in that area include breastfeeding in the workplace, newborn screening issues, mandatory reporting of child abuse and technical assistance for courts on early childhood brain development, an issue that often comes up for juvenile and family court judges and guardians.


This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.