• 87th Annual Georgia Public Health Association Meeting & Conference Report

      McWethy, Dianne; Abbott, Regina; Sims, Christy; Morgan, Brain; Harrison, Angie Peden; Gowan, David; Georgia Public Health Association (2016)
      The 87th Annual Meeting of the Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 22-23, 2016, with pre-conference (March 21st) and post-conference (March 23rd) Executive Board meetings. As Georgia’s leading forum for public health researchers, practitioners, and students, the annual meeting of the GPHA brings together participants from across the state to explore recent developments in the field and to exchange techniques, tools, and experiences. In recent years the venue for the GPHA annual conference has been Atlanta, with the 2017 GPHA Annual Meeting and Conference also scheduled to be held in Atlanta. Several new initiatives were highlighted as part of this year’s conference. These included three pre-conference workshops, expansion of academic sponsorships, an enhanced exhibit hall integrated with the poster sessions, silent auction, breaks and President’s Reception, an information booth, and an inaugural administration section track. The 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference added the Certified in Public Health (CPH) Continuing Education (CE) designation. The theme for the conference was Understanding Public Health: Research, Evidence and Practice, which reflects the science of public health. Specifically, the program addressed strengthening health systems in the United States and other countries through public health informatics; national accreditation of local health departments; applying an epidemiological approach to promoting reading proficiency for young children; an examination of factors related to health and educational disparities; continuing efforts to eliminate health disparities; and addressing key public health issues important to the state of Georgia. One hundred and nine (109) abstracts were submitted for peer review; 45 were accepted for poster and 40 for workshop presentations. Four plenary sessions with keynote speakers covered the development of collaborative methods to strengthen information capacity of public health systems, including accreditation and the linkage between early brain development and reading success. Concurrent workshops focused on board of health training, public health accreditation, capacity building, collaboration, health disparities, impacts of climatic variability on public health, monitoring systems for travelers from Ebola-affected countries, policy, and regulation. Twelve (12) awards were presented, including Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Dean Burke for his legislative efforts critical to the success of public health initiatives. These efforts included a bill creating the Maternal Mortality Committee within the Georgia Department of Public Health and his efforts related to potential Medicaid innovations for public health. The SellersMcCroan Award went to Lee S. Caplan, MD, MPH, PhD, Professor, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine for his efforts in securing funding from the National Cancer Institute to develop and implement a Cancer Prevention and Control Research Training Program that focuses on cancer disparities. The conference attracted 475 registrants primarily through pre-registration (n=461) with limited onsite registration (n=15). Although there was a decrease in overall conference attendance (19%), the number of exhibitors (n=36) and sponsorships (n=17) remained constant as compared to 2015. There was a significant increase in the number of posters (n=9), while the number of workshops remained the same (n=40). Of registrants reporting GPHA section participation, representation included: Academic (13%); Administration (25%); Boards of Health (11%); Career Development (4%); Emergency Preparedness (1%); Environmental Health (7%); Epidemiology (7%); Health Education and Promotion (8%); Information Technology (3%); Maternal and Child Health (5%); Medical/Dental (1%); Nursing (10%); and Nutrition (1%). There was a significant increase in the Administration Section (15%) which is likely attributable to the addition of the Administration Track. Yvette Daniels, JD, of the Department of Public Health was instrumental in working to revitalize the Maternal and Child Health Section and the Safety and Health Preparedness (formerly Emergency Preparedness) Section participation at the Annual Meeting and Conference. There was 100% participation in the conference from the state’s 18 public health districts. The online conference evaluation completed by a representative sample of registrants indicated areas of potential improvement as: alignment of breakout session topics with conference theme, enhancement of the use of information technology and social media for the conference agenda/syllabus, change pre-workshops to post-workshops, and consider repetitive sessions. Most rated the conference as “good” or “excellent.”
    • Bridging the gap between local public health and the healthcare community: The Public Health Talk

      Bharucha, Puja; Franklin, Rachel; Cobb and Duglas Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: District epidemiologists often rely on healthcare providers for medical information regarding reportable diseases in order to properly investigate cases. It becomes difficult when providers do not share patient information due to apprehension and/or lack of knowledge of HIPAA exemption laws. It is also challenging when the provider staff is not knowledgeable regarding disease specific information. When information is withheld, there is a delay in completing investigations, and high priority cases and outbreaks such as emerging infectious diseases can be missed or lost to follow up. Methods: The Public Health Talk (The Talk) initiative was established at Cobb and Douglas Public Health in 2014 by the Epidemiology Department. The Talk includes a comprehensive binder that consists of information about the reportable diseases, emerging infectious diseases, sexually transmitted infections and provides guidelines and protocols as recommended by the Georgia Department of Public Health. It provides a forum for local epidemiologists to informally meet and educate staff of healthcare facilities (physicians, nurses, office managers, administrative assistants, etc). Pre-talk and post-talk surveys were developed to assess knowledge gained of the staff to which The Talk was presented. Results: The initiative is ongoing, however, 31 Talks were completed by March 2016, but only 8 facilities were evaluated due to the delayed development of the surveys. It was found that 38% of staff members were not aware of the reportable diseases prior to the Talk. There was a noted increase in knowledge of local public health and the resources that are offered to healthcare facilities. Conclusions: Healthcare providers have begun to utilize public health to aid in assessing and diagnosing diseases. The initiative is evolving and continuously improving, including the development of newsletters to improve communication and the resource binder will be reorganized to have specific information that is needed by the specialty of the provider.
    • Discussion of public health education and training, and the needs of the future public health workforce.

      Nelson, Gary; Healthcare Georgia Foundation (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
      Georgia enjoys a wealth of public health capacity ranging from governmental public health to academic programs as well as local, state, and internationally acclaimed organizations. Leadership is evident across public health policy, practice and research. In the closing plenary of the 2017 Annual Meeting-Faces of Public Health, GPHA engages leaders in our field in a spirited conversation on the public health workforce. The esteemed panel representing state, national, and international public health organizations will reflect on the needs of a 21st Century workforce: prepared to respond beyond emergencies and identified threats; able to adapt to an increasing complex technological, political and economic environment; committed to affecting the economic and social determinants of health inequities; and collaborating to advance the knowledge base aligned with core public health functions and essential services. Are professional standards, qualifications and credentials appropriately calibrated for the needs and opportunities ahead? How has the underlying science base for public health practice, leadership and research changed? As stewards of population health, is the workforce equipped to provide thought leadership on health policy and legislation? What’s working and what’s not working in the recruitment, preparation, and retention of Georgia’s large and diverse public health workforce? The audience will be invited to join the panel in this engaging dialogue.
    • Engaging rural Georgians in Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-mandated community health needs assessments

      Lawrence, H Raymona; Nazaruk, Dziyana; Denis-Luque, Marie; Tedders, Stuart H.; Georgia Southern University, Georgia College and State University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      ABSTRACT Background: On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. The law became effective on March 23, 2012. The ACA stipulates that non-profit hospitals must demonstrate benefit to their communities through the process of community health needs assessments (CHNAs). Failure to comply with this law may result in loss of non-profit status or large fines. This report describes strategies for engaging rural communities in Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-mandated CHNAs. Methods: Public health practitioners from Georgia Southern University’s Jiann Ping Hsu College of Public Health collaborated with 18 rural, non-profit hospitals to complete community-specific CHNAs. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered from primary and secondary data sources to provide a comprehensive assessment of the needs and the assets of each of the communities. Results: The project team assisted 18 rural, non-profit hospitals in assessing the needs of their communities. Technical reports provided to the hospitals described the issues discovered during the assessment. Hospitals were empowered to utilize the information to prioritize community- specific issues and to develop comprehensive plans for implementation. Conclusions: The CHNA process provides an opportunity to strengthen relationships between public health services and hospitals as well as between hospitals and the communities they serve. Hospitals need to identify and engage diverse sectors of the community in order to comprehensively assess the needs and assets of communities to address the social determinants of health and to reduce health inequities/disparities.
    • Local youth groups in Georgia working towards policy, systems, and environmental changes

      Coleman, Anne-Marie; Ray, Kenneth; Toodle, Kia; Chung, Alina; O'Connor, Jean; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The Georgia Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) is a survey of public middle school (MS) and high school (HS) students. The Georgia YTS was first conducted in 2001. According to YTS, students who attended a tobacco free schools’ youth summit were significantly more likely to be aware of students who use tobacco products (MS: 21% for smoking and 20% for smokeless tobacco; HS: 42% for smoking and 39% for smokeless tobacco) on school property than students who did not attend a tobacco free schools’ youth summit (MS: 10 % for smoking and 9 % for smokeless tobacco; HS: 32 % for smoking and 35 % for smokeless tobacco. Methods: During the fall of 2014, the Chronic Disease Prevention Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) hosted a youth summit for youth groups across the state. In total, 149 youth and 49 adult leaders attended the summit. The youth summit provided training for middle and high school youth to become tobacco use control advocates in their communities. The youth were involved in creating the messages they would deliver to their school boards. Results: The local youth groups who attended the summit in 2014 were instrumental in four school districts adopting the model 100% Tobacco-Free Schools policy: Lowndes County Schools and Irwin County Schools (Valdosta, GA); Emanuel County Schools and Jenkins County Schools (Augusta, GA). Conclusions: These findings support the growing literature on youth involvement in advocacy work towards policy change. Youth should be recruited to work with public health professionals in building coalitions to change community norms.
    • Meeting the public health workforce’s training priorities in Georgia and the southeast

      Lloyd, Laura; Alperin, Melissa; Carvalho, Michelle; Miner, Kathleen; Emory University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The mission of the Region IV Public Health Training Center (R-IV PHTC) is to build knowledge and skills in the public health workforce in the eight states of HHS Region IV by providing competency-based training. Workforce training needs are changing quickly and dramatically in light of new developments in public health practice and science, emerging diseases, changes in the health care environment, and the growing emphasis on inter-professional practice. Additionally, a 2014 survey conducted by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) found that at least 38% of the current public health workforce plans to retire by 2020. Therefore, it is increasingly crucial to prepare upcoming managers for leadership positions and to train entry-level workers to assume more advanced roles. Methods: To address current and emerging training needs in Georgia and the southeast, the R-IV PHTC continually identifies emerging priorities and effective training approaches. It explores training needs through a review of formal needs assessments, key stakeholder interviews, surveys of targeted audiences, informal partner communications, and training evaluation data. An interactive component of the GPHA session allowed participants to identify and discuss their own professional training needs. Results: Workforce development needs assessments data across several southeastern states identified recurring training needs for professionals in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 of the Council on Linkages Core Competency domains for Analytical/Assessment Skills and Financial Planning/Management. In Georgia, top competency training needs gathered from a variety of assessment methods included Cultural Competency, Communication, Financial Planning/Management, Public Health Science, and Leadership/Systems Thinking. Participants in the workshop’s interactive component expressed highest personal need for training in Financial Planning/Management, Analytical/Assessment Skills, and Policy Development/Program Planning. However, for others in their organizations, they identified a priority need for leadership training. Conclusions: The R-IV PHTC assesses training needs and provides training resources to respond to current and emerging public health workforce development needs in Georgia and the southeast.
    • The need for culturally-tailored smartphone applications for weight control.

      Coughlin, Steven S.; Hardy, Dale; Caplan, Lee S.; Coughlin, S. S., Hardy, D. Caplan, L. S. (2016). Department of Community Health and Sustainability, Division of Public Health, University of Massachusetts, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, College of Allied Health Sciences, Augusta University, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Approximately 35% of U.S. adults are obese, and this rate is expected to increase by almost 50% by 2030. New media such as smartphone applications (apps) provide a useful and low-cost way to disseminate weight control information. For many culturally distinctive population subgroups, however, there is currently an absence of research-tested smartphone apps for weight control.
    • Public Health for Young Adults Day: Recruiting the next generation

      Pung, Mary-Kate; Williams, Nicholas; Kirkland, Rachel; Peden, Angie; Walker, Ashley; Georgia Southern University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: Public Health for Young Adults Day (PHYA Day) is a one-day program designed to educate high school-age students about the principles and values of the five core areas of public health. The goal of PHYA Day is to foster interest and ultimately increase recruitment into the field of public health. This goal is essential due to the impact of the economic recession of 2008. It was estimated that the local public health workforce decreased from 191,000 to 168,000 across the nation between 2008 and 2013. In spite of 2008’s recession, a well-trained, competent public health workforce remains an imperative component of effective public health service delivery. The researchers believe that PHYA Day encourages young people to explore the idea of a public health-focused career by increasing their knowledge of the field as a whole. Methods: A pre- and post-test survey was used to evaluate this program, determine if participants gained an interest in joining the public health workforce, and measure the learning outcomes of those participants. After gaining proper Institutional Review Board approval the evaluation was completed in April 2015. Results: When the averages of the post-test were compared to those of the pre-test the results showed that there was a significant gain in knowledge among participants. Conclusions: Based off of their findings the researchers were able to conclude that PHYA Day is effective in educating high school age students about the options that the public health field have to offer and therefore may increase the number of young adults choosing public health as a career.
    • Recruitment, retention, and succession planning for district health directors

      Rudd, Lee; Georgia Department of Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
      Background: Since the District Health Director (DHD) leads the district health organization, plans must be put in place to ensure that we retain current directors and anticipate the future when the DHD retires from the position. Methods: Best practices in the areas of recruiting, retention, and succession planning are used to present resolutions to the problems. Results: By following the steps identified in the best practices, there is a reasonable chance that the district will be prepared for any change in leadership. Conclusions: Using the best practices identified by human resources professionals combined with the unique characteristics of public health districts will ensure success.
    • A region-wide field placement program built on the foundation of mentorship and professionalism

      Carvallo, Michelle; Lloyd, Laura; Alperin, Melissa; Miner, Kathleen (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The Region IV Public Health Training Center (R-IV PHTC) provides public health students from the eight states of HHS Region IV with essential practice experiences that demonstrate the value of working with underserved populations. The Pathways to Practice Scholars field placement program is built on a foundation of mentorship, professionalism, and community. Methods: Sixteen student scholars (13 graduate; 3 undergraduate) were selected to work during May-August 2015 in practice-oriented agencies serving underserved populations. Each scholar received a $1500 living allowance. Seven of 16 accepted an internship outside the state of their university. In conjunction with mentors, Scholars developed work plans based on Council on Linkages Core Competency domains. Requirements included a pre-, mid- and post-assessment, an executive summary/reflection, and a virtual webinar presentation. Results: Student Scholars worked at sites across eight states in state or local health departments, Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and healthcare settings. Students identified Core Competency domains they developed most during the field placement: Communication, Analytical/Assessment, Leadership/Systems Thinking, and Community Engagement. The R-IV PHTC asked mentors to treat interns as valued employees and include them in activities beyond their specific project. Indicators of successful mentorship included expressed appreciation for student assistance and the desire to enrich the student experience while benefiting the agency mission. Mentors provided clearly defined projects for a short timeframe (10-12 weeks), adjusted to the students’ capacity and readiness, and offered opportunities to apply classroom skills to practice. They helped students develop immediately useful products in collaboration with community stakeholders. Conclusions: Mentors play a crucial role in the development and success of field placement students, but students and mentors share equal responsibility in fostering the relationship. Past case studies from this program demonstrate that some students find employment in these same agencies after graduation, and become mentors for future students, thus, creating a self-perpetuating learning communit
    • Using our voices -- and using our science

      Hinman, Johhanna (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      At the close of the 2015 Annual Meeting and Conference of the Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA), President Deborah Riner encouraged the assembly to “use your voice[s],” to be advocates for public health. Indeed, the history of our successes in public health reflects a history of advocacy, of speaking up to make change. Our charge is to use our voices to express our passion for public health or specific public health causes, and to use our voices to promote the best available science.
    • Variations in public health governance

      Jones, Jeffery; Bangar, Ankit; Chang, Patrick; Tarasenko, Yelena; Georgia Southern University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Studies of public health departments have found mixed results regarding the relevance of governance through local boards of health (LBOHs). Some studies find that LBOHs can be an important component in higher performance by local health departments. Other analyses, however, find no advantage for local health departments having or not having a LBOH. The hypothesis was that a typology of LBOHs nationwide can define different types of LBOHs based on their powers and responsibilities. Methods: Using national profile sample data from the National Association of Local Boards of Health, LBOHs were categorized using 34 variables based on four domains of responsibilities and duties: enforcement powers, regulatory powers, human resource powers, and budgetary powers. Correlations between types of LBOHs defined by this typology were then computed, and whether they shared significant characteristics in terms of the race, ethnicity, sex, and educational demographics of their board members was determined. ArcGIS was used to analyze the data spatially for regional and national patterns. Results: LBOHs vary considerably across the country - from LBOHs with no budgetary, enforcement, regulatory, or human resources authorities to those that have all four. Conclusions: Different types of LBOHs may have different influences on their associated local boards of health. This study provides a typology for future research to allow analysts to distinguish different types of LBOHs nationally.
    • Winning the obesity battle

      Blumenthal, Daniel S.; American College of Preventive Medicine, Department of Community Health & Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      There is no doubt that the United States, and especially Georgia, suffers from an obesity problem. Over a third of U.S. adults are obese (CDC, 2016a), as are about 18% of children and 21% of adolescents (CDC, 2016b). Similar percentages in each category are overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) greater than is considered healthy, but not great enough to fall into the obese category. [INTRODUCTION]