With prolonged heat and humidity expected throughout the state in the coming days, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reminds people to keep cool to avoid heat-related illness.

practice heat safety“People should take precautions to prevent heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke when temperatures are high,” said Leigh Cheney, Director of the DHHS Emergency Services Unit. “Seniors, young children and those with chronic health conditions are especially vulnerable to heat exposure. We urge people to watch for signs of heat-related illness, and know where they can find relief from the heat in their communities.”

Residents seeking information on cooling-related resources in towns and cities throughout New Hampshire are encouraged to call 2-1-1.

The following tips can help prevent heat-related illness:

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and take regular breaks from physical activity.
  • Wear sunscreen and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
  • Never leave children, seniors, pets, or people with health conditions in a parked vehicle, even briefly. Temperatures can become dangerous within a few minutes.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially seniors and people with a chronic illness, to see if they need assistance.
  • Use air conditioning to cool down. People who do not have an air conditioner can go to an air-conditioned public building, such as a public library or shopping mall, for a few hours.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Water is best. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.
  • Be aware that some medicines affect the body's ability to sweat and stay cool. Do NOT stop taking medication unless instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.

When the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently by sweating, heat exhaustion can result. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; fatigue. If you are experiencing heat exhaustion, drink cool beverages, seek air conditioning, rest, and remove heavy clothing. If left untreated, heat stroke can result.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Symptoms of heat stroke include red skin that is hot to the touch; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. The body temperature may rise dramatically, and the skin may feel dry. Move someone experiencing heat stroke to a cool place and seek emergency medical assistance.

For more information on resources available in your community, call 2-1-1. For more information on excessive heat, view the Excessive Heat Factsheet. For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For updates on weather conditions, visit the National Weather Service.

extremeheat

 

Inside NHPHA 

A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership

NH Gives Wrap-Up and Thank You!

written by Joan Ascheim, MSN, Executive Director

 

On June 11-12, the New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA) joined 275 nonprofits to participate in NH Gives, 24 hours of online fundraising. During our second year participating in the event, we increased our fundraising goal and expanded our activities to engage members in the event. We were successful in surpassing our previous year’s earnings and reached 62% of our more ambitious goal for 2019. We were also in the top 15% for number of donors and 18% for funds raised. More importantly, this was a tremendous opportunity to engage our members and the public as well as raise awareness of NHPHA and, in particular this year, our workforce development initiatives.

Prior to the event, we produced testimonial videos of one of our mentors, Katie Bush, and mentee Maria Walawender, who spoke to the value of our Public Health Mentor Program. These videos were expertly edited by our Board Secretary Michael Reaves and Southern New Hampshire University student Aisha Khiyaty. Visit our YouTube page for these terrific videos!

NH Gives 2During the event we were joined in the office by dedicated volunteers, including board members NHPHA President Marcella Bobinsky, NHPHA Board Secretary Michael Reaves, and NHPHA Board member Lisa Vasquez, who helped contact potential donors. Member Gail Tudor, new member Sophie LaRochelle, and students Adaeze Okorie and Aisha Khiyaty assisted in outreach through social media and wrote thank-you notes to donors. We all enjoyed pizza together, were live on Facebook, and rang a cowbell for each donation secured. It was our own mini-social media/telethon and a lot of fun. We also took and posted “unselfies” noting our reasons for supporting public health. Thank you to our board for 100% donor participation. Many thanks to our members for showing your support through your generous donations. Your contributions will support our ongoing workforce development offerings.

 Emily unselfie

 

NHPHA recently published a letter to the editor regarding the proposed NH budget in two newspapers, The Eagle-Tribune and Seacoastonline.com. Click on the links to read the letter.

 

By Jim Edson, Program Coordinator, Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) Injury Prevention Program

Kayak DHSwimming is summer’s most popular activity, and New Hampshire residents are fortunate that their swimming options range from the Atlantic Ocean to freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers. As you prepare to enjoy the water, it’s important to remember these safety tips to keep you and your children safe.

Nationally, 43 percent of children and teens drown in open water versus 38 percent, who drown in pools and hot tubs. Nine percent drown in bathtubs, and 10 percent drown from other causes. In the U.S., drowning is the second most common cause of unintentional death for individuals between ages 1 and 14, after car accidents.1

Drowning typically looks like nothing out of the ordinary is happening. When we think of drowning, we think of movies where the person is on their stomach. But they typically remain upright in the water and often don’t appear to be in distress. If you suspect someone is drowning, you should immediately check if:

  • They look at you with a blank stare or have glassy eyes;
  • Their head is low in the water;
  • They can’t verbally respond to you; or
  • You wave to them and they can’t wave back.

Most drownings in New Hampshire happen in open water or nontraditional swimming areas, such as swimming holes or rivers where kids jump off a cliff or swing from a rope. Riptides in the ocean are another hazard. Most beach areas typically have flags or warning signs, but you should also ask a lifeguard about swimming conditions.

Another cause of drowning is hypothermia. If someone falls into the water, especially in March, April, and May when water temperatures are still between 40 and 50 degrees, it takes just two to three minutes for hypothermia to set in. If that happens, you can’t move, so you’re not able to self-rescue. If you’re wearing a life jacket, you have a chance to get to shore or to stay above water long enough for someone to help you.

Safety Tips for Open Water

  1. Watch kids in and around water with no distractions (no cellphones).
  2. Teach kids how to swim in open water.
  3. Use a U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jacket that corresponds with the child’s weight and the water activity.
  4. If you see someone in trouble, reach with a stick or throw a rope or float. Take a boat or swim out to the person ONLY if you have been trained in those lifesaving skills.

Safety Tips for Home

  1. Undistracted supervision is key, whether you’re at a pool or in a bathtub.
  2. Buckets and containers that are stored outside should be turned over so that they can't collect water.
  3. Close toilet lids, use toilet seat locks, and keep bathroom and laundry room doors closed.
  4. Install a 4-foot-tall-or-higher fence around your pool.
  5. Get CPR training so that you know what to do in an emergency.

Safety Tips for Boating

If you’re getting into any boat—with a motor or without—the state of New Hampshire requires a life jacket for children up to age 12, and we encourage everyone to wear life jackets whenever they are boating, including in canoes and kayaks.

Safety Tips Around Pools

Pools should be enclosed by a fence and have an alarm on the gate. Be careful with older pools and hot tubs. They don’t have drains with special covers that prevent children from being pulled under water by the suction and potentially getting stuck to the drain. Most newer pools and hot tubs are equipped with a cover that prevents this.

Supervision is key. Always physically and verbally identify somebody to watch a child if the supervising person has to leave.

For more safety tips, visit chadkds.org.

1. Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children, May 2018, Safe Kids Worldwide, accessed June 8, 2018, https://www.safekids.org/research-report/hidden-hazards-exploration-open-water-drowning-and-risks-kids.

Image courtesy of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

 

New FuturesSpeaking up about policy is an important part of promoting public health in New Hampshire. At New Futures, we advocate for evidence-based health and wellness policies in the Granite State and help partners and community members raise their voices in Concord.

In 2019, New Futures is advocating for three large campaign priorities: promoting home visiting and family support services, addressing our health care workforce shortage, and opposing marijuana commercialization.

For information on other bills that New Futures is following in 2019, visit new-futures.org.

SB 274: Home Visiting

Our Granite State children are dealing with traumatic experiences due to our substance misuse, mental health, and child protection crises, and as a result, these children can face social, emotional, physical, and mental health challenges that last into adulthood and leave our state at risk in the future. To combat these adverse childhood experiences, we need to support home visiting programs, Family Resource Centers, and effective child protection programs that help connect parents and children with services they need to be healthy and happy.

SB 274 addresses some of these issues by increasing access to home visiting services to families in need. To learn more and read the bill, click HERE.

Thanks to the strong advocacy of home visitors, families, and more public health advocates, SB 274 passed both the House and Senate. The bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature and is expected to soon be signed into law.

SB 308: Health Care Workforce

In New Hampshire, businesses are struggling to fill open positions because there is a lack of qualified candidates. This challenge is overwhelming in our health care industry, where there are hundreds of clinical vacancies. These open positions lead to longer wait times, staff under additional pressure, and backups in emergency departments, all of which prevent Granite Staters from getting the health care that they need.

To learn more and read the bill, click HERE.

Pieces of SB 308 have been incorporated into other bills and the state budget. Some of the most important pieces of the bill to support our health care workforce and help ensure New Hampshire stays healthy, including increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, have been included in the budget by the Senate Finance Committee and will soon be put up for a vote in the full Senate.

This is an important first step to grow our health care workforce.

HB 481: Opposing Marijuana Commercialization

Marijuana commercialization without proper protections and more research does not promote public health in New Hampshire. Yet New Hampshire representatives have introduced an irresponsible bill, HB 481, which fully legalizes and commercializes marijuana without providing the necessary public health protections to keep our youth and communities healthy. Marijuana use during youth, when young brains are developing, can have long-term negative health effects, and commercialization can open the door to Big Marijuana entering our state and marketing harmful substances to our young people.

To learn more and read the bill, click HERE.

Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary committeed voted 5-0 to recommend that HB 481, the irresponsible marijuana commercialization bill, be re-referred back to committee. If this recommendation passes, the bill will continue to be studied until January 2020, so commercialization will not pass this legislative session. This is great news for our youth and communities!

Strong public health advocacy this session has helped craft and pass legislation that protects our communities and public health. We look forward to seeing this work cross the finish line soon!

We want to help you get comfortable with advocacy! If you are interested in learning more or advocating for public health policy at the State House, visit new-futures.org.

 

by Emily Goulet, Workforce Development Coordinator

IMG 6018In early May, the NHPHA Public Health Mentoring Program 2018-2019 concluded with a Celebration and Reflections Event. We celebrated each mentor and mentee pair with a certificate of completion and some much-deserved cake! We heard from participants about how the program was very rewarding for both mentors and mentees and, in some cases, life-changing. We discussed the possibility of hosting the program again, and we received great feedback from the participants. It was very rewarding for us to witness the testimonials to the program, as well as see firsthand the strong relationships between mentors and mentees.Congratulations to our graduating class of mentors and mentees! We were thrilled to have such wonderful mentors and mentees. Congratulations to our mentors: Karla Armenti, Joan Ascheim, Semra Aytur, Marcella Bobinsky, Beth Boucher, Lisa Bujno, Katie Bush, Amy Cullum, Gloria Fulmer, Anna Ghosh, Katrina Hansen, Meg Henning, Marc Hiller, Rebecca Sky, Trinidad Tellez, and Neil Twitchell. Congratulations to our mentees: Samantha Bartol, Kelly Bogert, Alyssa Carlisle, Bridgette Carrier, Meagan Durso, Juliette Gonzalez, Alexandra Hampton, Jennifer Howley, Lauren Paradis, Jessie Sagona, Nick Simeti, Emily Sorey-Backus, Sonya Spery, Nicole Viau, Maria Walawender, and Erin Wallace.

Nick Simeti, a mentee and MPH student talked about his goals for the program: “One of my goals for this program was to explore jobs and internship opportunities for the upcoming summer. This was my goal even before our first meeting. Through the help of my mentor and other resources I was able to reach that goal.”  He will now be working in an internship for the City of Concord Code Administration for the summer.

Another mentee, Maria Walawender, an early-career professional, talked about how her career goals changed through the program. She helped her mentor with a research paper.

“It was through the experience of talking about sea level rise on the seacoast that I fully developed my interest in environmental health.”

Now she wants to pursue graduate school in environmental public health.

Mentor Katie Bush spoke about how this program happened at a transitional phase in her life, and this program helped her to take a step back: “We live in a fast-paced world, data and information swirling all around us. It can be difficult to slow down, to find time to connect on a personal level, and to find time for self-reflection. This program provided a thoughtfully curated space to slow down, to connect, and to reflect.”

Another mentor shared, “It is really great to step back and think about public health issues that you don’t have time to think about because you’re too busy doing your deliverables. You can think about the public health issues that inspired you to get into public health in the first place.”

The program evaluations demonstrated that the program was very successful all around:

  • 100% of both mentors and mentees would recommend the program to others
  • 91% of mentees felt strongly that the program was valuable and worth their time
  • 93% of mentors felt strongly that the program was valuable and worth their time

Here is a comparison of the program goals, as assessed in December and then May. In both the graph of the Mentee Program Goals and the Mentor Program Goals, each goal improved over the course of time.

emily photos Page 1

emily photos Page 2 

NHPHA evaluated the program throughout and learned that while it was very well received by all participants, there were many suggestions for improvement that will be considered going forward. We hope to repeat the program, as funding allows, and will keep our membership informed of our outreach efforts to recruit new mentors and mentees.

 

Inside NHPHA

A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership

Joan AscheimWith Spring Come Celebrations and New Growth!

written by Joan Ascheim, MSN, Executive Director

We all have been waiting for spring to actually begin, and while the weather has not been springlike, celebrations of the season have! Recently we celebrated the completion of our first public health mentor/mentee cohort (see article below). I was thrilled to attend the University of New Hampshire Masters in Public Health graduation and present graduates with NHPHA pins. And we presented our workforce development accomplishments at a networking session at the National Network of Public Health Institutes conference in Washington, DC. Our workforce development and Rising Stars initiatives have blossomed through the nurturing of our workforce development coordinator Emily Goulet, who has accomplished so much in just over one year with us.  

JA May 2019

Congratulations to the 17th Master of Public graduating class
of the University of New Hampshire! Kudos to Katherine Dzenis,
Vanessa Grunkemeyer, and Emily Sorey-Backus for their excellent field study projects
completed as part of their program.

It is so inspiring to see the rich academic posters presented by students at our annual meeting.  We were humbled by the positive accolades and accomplishments of the first class of mentor and mentees and motivated by the enthusiasm of students attending the public health career panel at the annual meeting.

Based on our increasing emphasis on workforce development, NHPHA has decided to make it the focus this year’s NH Gives event to enable us to continue to bring quality public health education to our members and opportunities to our students and emerging professionals. Thus we humbly ask that on June 11–12 you considering supporting our work by visiting our NH Gives webpage and giving what you can. 

We hope that all our members and colleagues have a personal reason for supporting NHPHA through NH Gives. Jess and Emily wanted to share theirs with you! Thank you in advance for your consideration.

 Emily unselfieJess unselfie 

NH Gives

 

 

NHPHA President Marcella Bobinsky and Tessa LaFortune Greenberg recently co-authored an OpEd for The Concord Monitor about cannabis. The following is an excerpt:

"The New Hampshire Legislature is considering legalizing the sale and use of elective, or recreational, cannabis in the state.

The New Hampshire Medical Society and the New Hampshire Public Health Association do not categorically oppose legalization of cannabis for elective use. Pleasure, amusement, creativity and spirituality are important dimensions of healthy lives. The legal sale of a commercial product could contribute to a healthy economy, also a driver of community well-being. If legalization of cannabis supported these without adding to societal burdens of illness, trauma, addiction and other suffering, both organizations would almost certainly not be involved in the debate over legalization. Yet both organizations oppose the current bill under consideration for legalization."

To read the entire article, click here.

 

Hepatitis A CountThe New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has announced that there has been a significant increase in the number of people in New Hampshire diagnosed with hepatitis A. The rate at which cases are being reported are concerning; 33 hepatitis A diagnoses were made in March alone. Since November 2018, 79 people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, compared to an average of 6–7 people annually in recent years. The hepatitis A cases diagnosed since November have occurred in the counties of Hillsborough (36), Strafford (17), Rockingham (10), Merrimack (10), Cheshire (2), Grafton (2), Sullivan (1), and Carroll (1) Counties. One person from Merrimack County has died.

“Hepatitis A is spread by unknowingly getting the virus in your mouth after touching or eating items that are contaminated with small amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person or caring for someone who is ill,” said Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control. “Hepatitis A is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, which is vital to stopping this outbreak. People at high risk for infection should talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.”

The virus that causes hepatitis A is contagious and anyone can get it; however, people at highest risk of contracting the virus are:

  • people with direct contact with someone with hepatitis A
  • people using injection or non-injection recreational drugs, including marijuana
  • people experiencing homelessness or with unstable housing (e.g. “couch surfing”)
  • gay and bisexual men
  • people with ongoing, close contact with high-risk individuals

liverHepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver; severe infections can result in liver failure and even death. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.

Eighteen states have declared an outbreak of hepatitis A. More than 15,000 cases and 140 deaths have been reported in the US. For more information on New Hampshire’s outbreak, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisa/hepa-nh.htm.

 

The Annual Meeting in early April was a great success, and NHPHA was very pleased with the Rising Stars students in our midst. The winners of the Student Poster Session were Sage Lincoln and Vanessa Grunkemeyer. 

Sage LincolnSage Lincoln, an undergraduate student at Colby-Sawyer College, conducted a project entitled “Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health While Reducing Stigma in College Students at Colby-Sawyer College.” Sexual health becomes increasingly important as young adults gain independence. However, due to the current state of sexual education in the United States, many individuals are not properly educated on sexual health topics or safe practices. This hypothetical intervention project considers a mandatory sexual education graduation requirement at the college level, supplemental education opportunities outside of the classroom, and additional resources for students. The potential intervention is designed for implementation at Colby-Sawyer College to improve health outcomes in the college-age population. Completion and evaluation of this program could influence other colleges to implement similar programs to benefit their student populations.

VanessaVanessa Grunkemeyer, a graduate student at UNH, conducted a project entitled “Assessment of Biosecurity at Live Poultry Vendors in NH.” Every year thousands of hatchling poultry birds are sold at secondary vendors, such as feed and garden stores, in NH. These birds represent a public health risk primarily because poultry can asymptomatically shed multiple species of enteric bacteria, including nontyphoidal Salmonella spp., that are potentially zoonotic. This project consisted of the development and application of an assessment tool to evaluate the biosecurity at second-party live poultry vendors in NH. The ultimate goal in analyzing the data from these assessments is to identify areas for improvement in biosecurity to reduce the risk of disease transmission from these birds.

IMG 4946The Rising Stars Pre-Session this year was a Career Panel of public health professionals who work in a variety of capacities all over the state. We hosted Victoria Adewumi, MA, Public Health Specialist I/Community Liaison at the Manchester Health Department; Ashley Conley, MS, CPH, CHEP, Director of the Infection Prevention Department at Catholic Medical Center; Katrina Hansen, MPH, Chief of Infectious Disease Surveillance Section for Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, DHHS; Melissa Schoemmell, MPH, Program Coordinator at Community Health Institute/JSI; and LCDR Torane Hull (TW), RN, MSN, MPA, CPH, CDC Public Health Adviser for the United States Public Health Service, NH Immunization Section at Bureau of Infectious Disease Control for New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, DHHS. The panel was well received by the students who participated, particularly the round-robin discussion at the end. This is a great way for students to learn what types of public health exist in NH, as well as the variety of paths one can take within public health.

IMG 5751This year, NHPHA hosted a First Annual Silent Auction at the Annual Meeting. The auction launched one week prior to the meeting, via an online platform, culminating in an in-person live auction. We were thrilled with the support from local businesses and artists. We were able to offer gift certificates to restaurants, passes to movie theatres and entertainment venues, tickets for games and adventures, local artwork, handmade crafted items, wine tastings, and so much more! Thank you to our supportive donors and to everyone who bid! It was a new and exciting addition to the Annual Meeting, and we were thrilled with its success.

 

Inside NHPHA

A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership

NHPHA Thanks You for Successful Annual Meeting

written by Marcella Bobinsky, HMP, NHPHA President

Marcella Bobinsky resizedIt is always a joy to celebrate organizational achievements and thank accomplished professionals. The 2019 NHPHA Annual Meeting provided time for us to do just that. Plus, the community was introduced to young public health professionals through the poster exhibition and the Rising Stars program. My thanks go out to all who participated, attended, sponsored, and supported the first silent auction.

At this meeting, the Board of Directors has the honor of naming annual award winners for the following categories:

Roger Fossum Lifetime Achievement Award: Audrey Knight

Audrey Knight

NH Community Health Service Award: The Union Leader
Union Leader

Friend of Public Health Award: Sally A. Kraft, MD, MPH (not pictured)

Rising Star Award: Kelley Gaspa (not pictured)

Outgoing President Rebecca Sky gave the President’s award to Katie Robert and Neil Twitchell.
Katie NHPHA Award

Congratulations to the recipients. You each bring a talent and passion to the work that you do every day. Thanks to those who nominated these outstanding individuals and the organization.

Cassie YackleyCassie Yackley, PsyD, was the Keynote Speaker. She focused her talk on adverse childhood experiences, their impact, and the opportunities that public health has to develop resilience in our children.

Sixteen graduate and undergraduate public health students from six New Hampshire universities presented the results of their research projects. The posters were scored by public health professionals. Graduate student Vanessa Grunkemeyer and undergraduate student Sage Lincoln received the highest scores. They both received free registration to the New England Public Health Conference. 

awardsThree members of the 2018–2019 Board of Directors were thanked for their years of service: Tyler Brandow, Jeanie Holt, and Katie Robert.

Five seasoned professionals offered their wisdom and stories during the Career Panel, remarking on how their positions in the public health system interact with others. They spoke about their own career paths and provided suggestions on how to make a place for one’s self in public health. For more info about NHPHA's 2019 annual meeting career panel, click here.

IMG 4946The Annual Meeting and the programs of the NHPHA depend on our individual and corporate members. It is their generosity, commitment, and activism that are the lifeblood of this organization. In the past three years, under the guidance of the Board of Directors, NHPHA has accepted the challenge of championing public health policy and practice, enriching the workforce, and inspiring leaders to improve the public’s health. To that end, we have hired an Executive Director and a Workforce Development Coordinator. We continue to move forward with our three-year growth plan and strategic imperatives. This summer, we will once again convene a strategic planning session to ensure that we are listening to our members, identifying our weaknesses, and leveraging our strengths.

In 2018, NHPHA was named American Public Health Association’s “Affiliate of the Year.” This award tells us that we are doing something right and have the elements in place to make a real difference for the public’s health. The Board of Directors will be asking for your help.

I extend a very special thanks to everyone who participated and gave to the Silent Auction. Emily Goulet was instrumental in the development of this event, and we give her total credit for its success. Every new fundraising event that we undertake is one more step toward the success of NHPHA. 

Following are the officers and directors for the NHPHA Board of Directors for 2019–2020. For more information on our board members, click here.

Officers:

Marcella Bobinsky, President                               Shannon Bresaw, Vice President

Lisa Bujno, President-Elect                                  Sophia Johnson, Treasurer

Rebecca Sky, Immediate Past President             Michael Reaves, Secretary

Directors:

Mary Ann Aldrich                                                  Neil Twitchell

Sai Cherala                                                           Lisa Vasquez

Devinne Healy                                                      Ashley Wilder

Terry Johnson                                                       Abbott Willard

Darlene Morse                                                      Paul Janampa, Equity Leadership Fellow

Jonathan Stewart

 

written by Rebecca Sky, former NHPHA President

At the end of January, the NHPHA Board of Directors approved a new policy position statement regarding cannabis. This was a result of much study, consultation with locally and nationally recognized subject-matter experts, and dialogue by both our policy committee and board of directors. The evidence base of what works and what doesn’t is ever expanding. The goal of our position statement is to allow NHPHA to share with decision-makers the science-backed evidence that is available regarding the pros and cons of various cannabis public policy approaches and the overall health impact of cannabis throughout the human life course.

Development of NHPHA’s Cannabis Public Policy Position Statement was a very considered process. It began last year with New Futures, a valued partner in our statewide public health advocacy efforts, approaching NHPHA and indicating that 2019 would be the year that serious consideration of legalization and commercialization would happen at the NH State House. It was time for NHPHA to find its voice on the matter. Kate Frey, a longtime NHPHA member and the New Futures Vice President of Advocacy, presented to our policy committee over the summer and provided significant technical assistance as the committee began to craft a policy statement. NHPHA leadership, including myself as then President; Rachel Maxwell, our policy committee chair at the time; and board member Shannon Bresaw, attended the APHA conference in November. We collectively attended many sessions with public health experts from across the country speaking on the topic of the public health impacts of legalization. We made connections with those subject-matter experts. A draft position statement was brought to the board for approval at the end of November. The board debated the statement and decided to form an ad hoc subcommittee to further discuss and rewrite the position statement. The process took two months, and another board discussion followed by a final rewrite before a statement was approved. As we go forward, your input is welcome in shaping NHPHA’s advocacy efforts on this challenging issue.

If you would like to be a part of the evolution of NHPHA’s work in this arena, please contact Jess Barnett at the NHPHA office at info@nhpha.org, who will connect you with the NHPHA policy committee.

 

 

Inside NHPHA

A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership

Harnessing the Power of Interns

written by Joan Ascheim, MSN, Executive Director

One of New Hampshire Public Health Association’s (NHPHA) strategic priorities is to strengthen the public health workforce through membership engagement and professional development. While you may be familiar with our educational offerings, you may not know that we have an intern program to help connect public health students to real-world public health placements. That program takes several forms.

Intern Stipends

interns get on the job experienceEach year we are allocated a number of intern stipends from the New England Public Health Training Center at Boston University that we award to public health or other health student majors who meet the internship requirements. This year three interns received stipends to tackle a variety of projects. NHPHA was fortunate to engage Lyzbeth Best, an MPH student from George Washington University, to conduct a feasibility study to determine if New Hampshire public health professionals would benefit from a learning collaborative around the social determinants of health. Lyz interviewed public health partners around the state and summarized her positive findings, which will be used to direct NHPHA programming going forward. Lyz notes, "Working with the NHPHA as an intern has given me practical, hands-on experience to complement my MPH studies. Everyone has been so helpful and eager to contribute to my work. I look forward to sharing my results.”

Emily Sorey-Backus is an MPH student at the University of New Hampshire who is lending her energy and expertise to NEA-NH to analyze a survey sent to schools relative to student mental health and will be conducting Mental Health First Aid training at a number of events. 

While pursuing her MPH from Dartmouth College, Fiona McEnany is interning with the HIV/HCV Resource Center in the Upper Valley. She is administering and analyzing surveys conducted at syringe exchange locations to identify health risks and needs of individuals at risk for HIV and hepatitis C. Her work will help the resource center target services to identify gaps in care and testing. Watch for future stipend announcements this summer!

Other Internship Opportunities

Beyond the stipend program, NHPHA serves as an internship placement site and connects students to other sites for unpaid internships. Gretchen Swain interned with NHPHA while completing her Masters of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy. Gretchen completed an environmental scan of partners working on gun violence prevention, current New Hampshire laws, and anticipated bills for the 2019 session. She also prepared testimony that was submitted for a committee hearing on guns in schools and can be utilized by NHPHA as the bill winds its way through the legislative process.

swpnhNHPHA has developed a relationship with Stay, Work, Play New Hampshire (SWP). SWP is a nonprofit that seeks to attract and retain young people in the state. Upon our request, they have recently added a “public health” tag to their search function on their internship web page. We encourage potential intern placement sites to post their internships on the SWP intern site, or we can do that for you!

NHPHA can serve as conduit between placement sites and students. We have a strong relationship with all the schools in the state that have a public health major undergraduate or graduate program. Recently we met with the City of Concord to help them craft an internship focused on housing ordinance compliance and food safety. We posted it to our listserv and shared it with our academic partners. They now have a strong candidate, and we will work together to help them find interns going forward.

The dictionary defines an intern as “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience.” While this is an accurate definition, we think it to be a bit anemic. We believe that public health internships can serve to provide students with a real-life public health experience that can fuel their passion for the field and help provide some clarity for their future path. From a placement site perspective, our interns have completed meaningful projects that were immediately beneficial and of great value to our mission. 

Please contact us if we can be of assistance in any way to help you create an internship, publicize it, find a student, or find a placement for a student. Our interns are our future!

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