A Rising Star - Hannah Leeman

Guest post by Rising Star, Hannah Leeman, CDC Public Health Associate
New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, Concord, NH
Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance

Rising StarI am honored to be able to share my experience in New Hampshire public health and my work with the NHPHA community. I am a CDC Public Health Associate working in New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, on issues of antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections. The CDC Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) is a two year fellowship/training program for early career public health professionals to gain frontline public health experience. Associates are assigned to public health agencies and nongovernmental organizations across the United States and US territories, and work alongside other professionals across a variety of public health settings. If you are interested to learn more about the program, you can find information at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/phap/index.html. I am happy and honored to have been placed in New Hampshire and I have had the privilege of being here over a year.

While New England was familiar territory, as I grew up near Portland, Maine and attended college in the Boston area, at Brandeis University where I completed my undergraduate studies in public health, New Hampshire was a brand new experience. I was delighted to find a small yet vibrant public health community which I was able to engage with quickly. I have found that the collaboration and partnership across different health sectors and program areas that takes place in a small state public health structure both an exciting and  nurturing learning environment.

My work at NH DPHS has been primarily focused on understanding and combatting antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. When I first began my work in New Hampshire in the fall of 2016, the antimicrobial resistance program was just getting started, allowing me to be part of shaping and taking a leadership role in the program, an experience which has been incredibly fulfilling. The primary goal of our program’s antimicrobial resistance activities is to better understand drug resistance in NH, engender statewide collaboration and coordinated efforts to work towards reducing resistance and preventing antibiotic resistant infections in NH.

One of my major projects in recent months has been the creation of a statewide antibiogram. The first event state antibiogram was published in New Hampshire last month. An antibiogram is a chart that compares bacterial organisms to antibiotics and shows the percent susceptibility of each organism to each respective antibiotic. An antibiogram is produced by all hospital labs across the state, and then the data were compiled into a statewide antibiogram. This is the first that’s been done in New Hampshire and one of only a few across the county. Antibiograms are both a clinical tool to assist providers in prescribing appropriately based on the population resistance, which can directly lead to the better treatment of patients, and they are also an important public health tool to track resistance over time and geographically. As part of this project, I worked closely with many different clinical infectious disease doctors and pharmacists to develop messaging around the data and I have also had the privilege to travel across the state presenting the antibiogram and our findings. If you want to check out the first NH state 2016 antibiogram report, you can find that here: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hai/documents/antibiogram-sum-2016.pdf

I am also planning the first annual New Hampshire Antimicrobial Stewardship Symposium, a large statewide conference to discuss and kick start state coordinated efforts of antibiotic stewardship to promote the responsible and judicious use of antibiotics across New Hampshire. The issue of antimicrobial stewardship is one that reaches across disciplines and healthcare types, and we hope this symposium will to reflect that in the audience it attracts. This symposium is targeted toward physicians, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, dentists, laboratorians, public health professionals, healthcare administration, and any other leaders in stewardship in all healthcare settings. It is taking place May 23rd, 2018 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. I encourage anyone interested to join us, and please be in touch if you’d like more information! I can be reached at hannah.leeman@dhhs.nh.gov, (603) 271-1058.

Antibiotic resistance is an issue that affects everyone and we each have a role to play in prevention. The link below provides further information on antibiotics and describes ways that you can be a responsible user of antibiotics. https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hai/patient-info.htm

I have enjoyed and learned so much from my experience in my past year plus in New Hampshire. I have been lucky to work closely with many smart and passionate public health advocates here at NH DPHS. I look forward to my coming months here before I plan to return to school full time to pursue a Master’s in Public Health.
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