Sadly this month I am adding my voice to those who are speaking out in the wake of yet another unbearably tragic mass shooting in one of our nation’s schools.  You may be like me in that each time this happens, you feel outrage and sadness and an urge to do something.  Short of adding my name to some petition and donating to causes that seek to end gun violence I mostly feel overwhelmed and helpless.  The youth of Parkland Florida are bravely making their voices heard and could, in fact, be the impetus to make real change in the reduction of gun violence in the United States.  Locally we can do more.  We can get organized.  Please join the NHPHA policy committee to create a local voice on this important issue.

As public health professionals we have an obligation to utilize public health strategies to address gun violence which kills over 36,000 individuals each year or one person every 15 minutes. Both Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association note that we need look no further than approaches taken to reduce motor vehicle crashes as effective public health prevention strategies upon which we could model gun violence prevention.  In public health we assess the data to explain the nature and magnitude of the problem.  We research strategies, implement and evaluate them to effect change.  Kristof states, “We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them- so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.”   Strategies included seatbelts, federal safety standards for cars, child safety seats speed limits and airbags.  All fifty states have varying graduated licensing laws for teens with provisions such as limiting hours youth can drive and the numbers of passengers they can carry until they have more experience.  Such laws have dramatically reduced deaths and crashes among teen drivers.  These concepts and approaches are transferrable to the prevention of deaths due to firearms.

There are examples we can draw from to reduce firearm deaths both in the United States and other countries with Australia providing the most powerful illustration.

Following a deadly mass shooting in 1996, Australia passed sweeping gun reform including firearms restrictions and a mandatory buyback program of semiautomatic rifles.  There is a national registration, an age requirement (18 or over), required training and storage, and grounds for license refusal (violent convictions, mental or physical fitness).  After the buyback program, there has not been a single mass shooting.

While talk of gun reform legislation can be politically divisive, Kristof cites 2017 polls from the Pew Research Center and the Quinnipiac University National Poll that reveal that both gun owners and those without are fairly close in their views on several policies to make guns safer: background checks for all gun buyers (93%,96%); preventing the mentally ill from buying guns (89%, 89%) nationwide ban of sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes (88%, 85%).  However, in some areas consensus is less likely such as banning the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines (52%, 77%). 

New Hampshire currently rates a “D”grade in terms of gun regulations according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  The Center finds that states with the strongest gun regulations tend to get an “A” in its grading system.  Tightened gun laws in Connecticut resulted in a 40 percent decrease in gun homicide rates. 

Last year NHPHA began to tackle this tough issue by adopting a policy statement to allow us to advocate for measures to decrease deaths due to firearms.  Our policy supports: universal background checks; improving data on gun ownership and firearm injury and death data; restricting the sale of military-style weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips or magazines and more.  Our need now is for volunteers willing to stand together to carry out advocacy efforts.  Please contact Rachel Maxwell, our policy committee chair if this is of interest to you.  The time to hold our policymakers accountable is now.  NHPHA encourages its members to join with and support the voices of Florida’s youth to call for sound policies to stop the senseless violence both in New Hampshire and across the nation. 

header for Feb 15 2018

You don't want to miss this training where you will learn and have your questions answered about the limits and differences between Advocacy and Lobbying activities. Two subject experts - one from the national perspective and the other from the NH perspective will be on board.

What can you do as a non-profit or public health official? What are the legal sources of lobbying restrictions? What is advocacy, direct lobbying, and grassroots lobbying? As we move into the thick of the New Hampshire legislative session be ready with the information you get at this opportunity.

Kerri McGowan Lowrey will be presenting information that will empower you to effectively advocate for your organization without breaking any laws. She will cover Federal Restrictions, IRS info, and more.

Jim Monahan will bring it home by focusing on NH advocacy opportunities; and the skill sets necessary to successfully advocate at the NH legislature for your agency.

There will be ample time for your questions at the end of the presentations.

When: February 15, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Snow Date: February 22.
Where: University of NH School of Law, 2 White Street, Concord, NH
Who: Anyone interested in learning more about advocacy and lobbying - novices to experienced - all are welcome
Cost: $15 for NHPHA Members; $30 for Non-members; $15 for students.

Note: There are some scholarships available for students. Please contact info@nhpha.org to apply.

Register here.  For more info contact info@nhpha.org

More info about the presenters.

Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, is Deputy Director and Director for Grants & Research for the Network for Public Health Law’s Eastern Region at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Kerri has more than 15 years of experience in public health law and policy. Her areas of research include injury prevention law, particularly sports and recreational injury prevention in children and adolescents; the role of law in cancer prevention; and transportation policy and public health.

James (Jim) Monahan, Vice President, The Dupont Group has a strong and established public affairs practice that focuses on representing businesses, trade associations and non-profit organizations before state and national governmental agencies. This work includes an emphasis on policy development, legislative advocacy and effective communications.Jim’s professional focus includes energy, transportation and environmental issues. He does work in the healthcare field, with an emphasis on Medicaid policy.



This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB6HP27877 “Regional Public Health Training Center Program”
Call out for leadership! The NHPHA Membership Committee is seeking a Co-Chair to fill the vacant seat on the committee. Please reach out to current Co-Chair Ashley Peters (Ashley.Peters@unh.edu) with questions and/or nominations.


Monarchs NHPHA Member Appreciation Event. On Saturday, March 3rd @ 6PM, NHPHA will take a trip to the Manchester Monarchs. We've received significantly discounted tickets through the Monarchs - $12 for kids and $16 for adults. Reserve your tickets now. Come hang out with your fellow #publichealthnerds and their families

Monarchs



NHPHA Open House Recap
. In December, NHPHA hosted their annual open house. It was a night of great public health conversation, networking and fun with NHPHA members and their families. We also had a special visit from Representative Rebecca McBeath from Rockingham (District 26). Thank you to everyone who was able to join us!

Melissa resized  OpenHouseGroup


Membership Renewal Pins. As a thank you to our members for their membership renewal, the Committee has purchased pins for our members as a thank you. We hope that you will wear your pins with pride at NHPHA and other public health events. Pins can be picked up at NHPHA events, or to coordinate a pick up, please e-mail Ashley Peters (Ashley.Peters@unh.edu).

Snapshot of membership numbers: As of January 31, 2018, NHPHA has 134 individual members and 21 organizational members.

New and renewing members. We'd like to welcome our new members:

  • Christine Paulik
  • Corey Dowe
  • Diane Sullivan

A special shout-out to our renewing individual members: Shannon Casey, Michael Cohen, Jackie Aguilar, Theresa Calope  and Marc Hiller. We'd also like to welcome back Breathe NH as an organizational member.
Guest post written by Ashley Conley, MS, CPH, CHEP, Catholic Medical Center

It’s that time of year again when we see an increase in influenza activity across the country. As of January 20th, the entire country was seeing widespread influenza activity, including New Hampshire. With so much influenza activity, there has been a lot of media attention on the topic. Are you tired of listening to the media reports? Tired of listening to the public health announcements about vaccination and hand hygiene? I know I start to get a bogged down by all the media after a few weeks of influenza season but I urge you to remain vigilant with your influenza prevention habits, and for good reason!

Influenza A (H3N2) is dominating the influenza landscape this year. Historically, this strain brings an increase in hospitalizations, deaths and influenza activity in the community. As you can see in the figure below from the CDC, this year’s influenza season has a similar level of activity to the 2014-2015 influenza season, which caused an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Nationwide, there have been 37 pediatric deaths since the start of the influenza season. Thankfully, we have not seen any in New Hampshire at the time of this writing. The age group seeing the highest rate of hospitalizations from influenza is adults over the age of 65. 

Flu
What can you do to fight the flu? The top three ways are: get vaccinated, wash your hands (all the time!), and discuss taking antivirals if you get influenza. It can take 2 weeks for your body to develop antibodies after you get the vaccine so don’t delay and get it today. It’s not too late! Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you wash your hands first and clean and disinfect commonly touched items such as your desk and phone. If you start to come down with symptoms of influenza, such as a fever, cough, body aches and sore throat, talk to your doctor about taking antiviral medications, especially if you are over 65 years old or have a high risk health condition (e.g. asthma, diabetes). Antivirals have been shown to reduce serious complications from influenza.2

Stay up to date on what is happening with influenza and don’t just rely on the media reports. Check out the data by going to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services website https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/influenza/activity.htm for a statewide perspective or go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm) for a regional or national perspective. The CDC also has an interactive dashboard you can manipulate to look at the data you are interested in. Check it out by going to https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/fluportaldashboard.html. Stay healthy this influenza season!

1CDC. (2018). Weekly US Influenza Surveillance Report. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#ILIMap.
2CDC. (2018). Preventive Steps. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm
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.
Guest post by Meghan Farrell, New Futures

The New Hampshire Health Protection Program, also known as Medicaid Expansion, is a unique, New Hampshire solution that leverages federal dollars to ensure that all Granite Staters have access to quality and affordable health care. Over 130,000 New Hampshire residents have accessed necessary care throughout the program’s lifetime. Over 23,000 individuals have used their coverage to access substance use services, making the program our number one tool in fighting the Granite State’s addiction epidemic.

Unfortunately, this critical program is set to sunset at the end of 2018. Currently, lawmakers are considering multiple proposals to reauthorize Medicaid Expansion, ensuring that tens of thousands of Granite Staters get the care they need to get healthy and get back to work.

It is crucial that our lawmakers understand the benefits of Medicaid Expansion to our economy, workforce, and communities.

How can you support Medicaid Expansion?

Help plan, or attend, an in-district meeting

An in-district meeting with your representatives is the perfect opportunity to explain to them the immense and unique impact that Medicaid Expansion has had on your own community. In-districts look different in each community, but overall allow lawmakers to hear from a wide variety of constituents, organizations, and businesses that they represent.

Contact your representatives

Phone calls, emails, letters, and in-person meetings with your senators and representatives to urge them to support reauthorization can happen at any time. Click here to find your lawmakers.

Submit a letter to the editor

Advocating in the media will help make sure that your lawmakers see all angles of this issue from lots of different sources. Consider submitting a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in support of Medicaid Expansion reauthorization.

Collect client stories

Stories of success from Medicaid Expansion beneficiaries help to demonstrate the local impact of this program. Collecting client success stories to bring to your lawmakers, or empowering clients to share their stories themselves, will help lawmakers understand the many lives that benefit from the program. Individuals can also share their stories via this link.

Use social media

Social media is an important tool to advocate for issues that we care about. Some sample tweets about Medicaid Expansion include:

Over 50,000 residents have health care because of #MedEx. What will they do if this program sunsets? #nhpolitics
#MedEx supports NH's low-income workforce and it helps people get back to work. Without it, our economy would suffer. #nhpolitics

New Futures has talking points, planned in-district meetings, sample phone scripts, and letters to the editor to make it as easy as possible for you or your organization to get involved. Please contact Holly Stevens at hstevens@new-futures.org for more information.
January marks the start of the legislative session at the NH Statehouse and NHPHA is on the move! For a professional organization with as broad a reach as ours, it is always a challenge to limit our legislative activity to where we can have the greatest impact. In December we defined three priority areas for action to give clarity to our vision for our legislative work this year. This January was the typical flurry for our policy committee of reviewing bill language and speaking to partners to decide which bills in the NH Statehouse would receive most of our attention during the session. The bills we attend to may shift as the session progresses, but for now we have two to three bills in each of the priority areas that we will seek your help to educate legislators on the public health impacts. Our priority areas are as follows with the proposed legislation we are targeting listed underneath:

Equity & Health Outcomes – NHPHA will seek to address inequities in education, housing, pay, benefits, social inclusion, etc., that result in a substantial burden of avoidable illness. All people who live in New Hampshire should have a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This session we will work to:
  • pass the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program that will support low-income, hourly wage-earners who do not currently have access to such benefits,
  • ensure Medicaid Expansion does not sunset or cover fewer lives, and
  • remove work requirements that limit access to public assistance programs.
Healthy Environments – Natural, Built and Social - NHPHA will seek to address the environments in which we live, learn, work, and play to ensure a healthy population. We will join in efforts this session with other fellow advocates to:
  • support legislation to make our roadways safer supporting a seatbelt bill,
  • oppose a bill seeking to reduce limits on cell phone use while driving,
  • support the Tobacco 21 legislation that seeks to increase the age of purchase for tobacco products.
Substance Misuse – Improving Prevention, Treatment, & Recovery - NHPHA believes the high rate of Opioid Use Disorders, a preventable and treatable disease of the brain, is the number one public health crisis facing the State of New Hampshire in 2018. We will seek to support an appropriate legislative response. We will:
  • oppose reducing the age for legally possessing alcohol, and
  • support increasing the distribution of funds to the Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund.
To learn more about our vision for our legislative action, see detailed descriptions of our priority areas on our website: https://nhpha.org/advocacy/legislative-priorities.

Thank you to Rachel Maxwell for chairing the public policy committee and to JJ Smith for already committing hours of time as the NHPHA Advocacy Lead. Please contact Rachel Maxwell if you would like to get involved on these issues or others. And please keep an eye out for information about our Legislative Breakfast, Wednesday, March 7th, 7:00 to 8:30 AM. There is nothing like talking to your legislator over coffee!
The New Hampshire Public Health Association is seeking a part-time (20 hours per week) Workforce Development Coordinator to coordinate and expand its continuing education offerings and the Rising Stars Initiative to connect public health students, young professionals and employers through recruitment, job fairs, internship and mentoring programs. This is a one-year grant funded position with potential to continue beyond the first year. Duties include developing and coordinating: public health webinars; student intern and mentoring programs; recruitment opportunities for public health professionals; and the Rising Stars Advisory Committee.

You can review more information and the requirements for the position here.
NHPHA is able to pursue its mission through a variety of funding sources - such as membership dues, donations, registration fees and grants. Without such support we would not be able to provide opportunities for public health professionals to network and share ideas; cultivate and nurture our "rising stars" (young professionals just launching their careers); or provide professional development opportunities for those who are currently working in the public health field.

We are pleased to announce we have recently been awarded two grants to support our work.


NEPHTC resized
 
We are grateful to the New England Public Health Training Center (NEPHTC) for funding a new grant proposal we recently submitted. These funds will allow us to provide a variety of training and work force development opportunities designed to benefit future and present public health professionals.  


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We are also appreciative of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation's grant that will allow us to grow our Rising Stars program. The supported project will connect public health students, young professionals and employers through recruitment, job fairs, internship and mentoring programs. We anticipate making strong and lasting connections between academic settings, students and employers.
For many of us in the clinical and public health field receiving a flu shot is an annual occurrence. Each one of us makes the decision to receive the influenza vaccination for a number of reasons. Perhaps we do not want to become ill, we want to protect our loved ones, or this is one of the ways we support antimicrobial stewardship efforts on a personal level. Regardless we make these decisions because we are informed, we know how important the influenzae vaccine is not only for ourselves but to the health of the public too.

girl fluBut what if you didn’t go to school for public health or the medical field? Would you still get the flu vaccine? What if you read in a newspaper the influenzae vaccine is only predicted to be 10% effective this year? Many people this year have been in this situation, unsure if receiving the influenzae vaccination is a good choice. While the statistic of 10% effectiveness is not wrong in its entirety, the value does not convey to the public how the value was arrived upon nor what exactly the number means. While the public may interpret the information to mean there is only a 10% chance this year's vaccine will protect them from the flu, this is not the case.

The value was an estimate of the vaccine’s effectiveness against only one of the circulating strains of flu (H3N2) in Australia, and does not take into account the protection provided against other flu strains targeted this year . Vaccine effectiveness also varies by geographic location, since circulating strains differ depending on the region examined. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have utilized their robust projection tools to study the common H3N2 strain in the United States and have found it to be similar to the virus used to create the vaccine1. The CDC will continue to monitor and collect data as the flu season progresses1.

The media’s portrayal of information regarding the effectiveness of the current influenzae vaccine is a symptom of the larger issue of communicating health information to the public. Providing correct yet easily understandable information to patients and the public about health information can be difficult, but can have a large impact on the engagement of the patient in their own healthcare. We can make a difference everyday by directing patients and those you serve to credible unbiased sources of information with appropriate health literacy levels. Utilize already existing resources to promote influenzae vaccinations in common areas. Or perhaps share with your patients or clients what your reason was for getting the flu vaccine and encourage questions. When the devastation of the 1918 influenza pandemic is no longer within the memory of the public, we as public health professionals need to remember and share the importance of influenzae vaccinations.

Written by NHPHA Member and subject expert Carly Zimmermann MPH MLS(ASCP)
Lisa Bujno has been dedicated to the health of northern New England residents throughout her career. She spent 15 years with the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, L Bujno 150x188serving as deputy director and Title V director. Her nursing career led her next to White River Junction, Vermont, where she was associate chief nurse for quality and performance at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Currently, she is the assistant medical director at Ammonoosuc Community Health Center in Littleton, New Hampshire. She also is medical director of the Integrated Delivery Network in the North Country and is involved in work groups for the North Country Health Consortium. “Maternal and child health issues are very important to me,” she says, “as is access for people with behavioral and substance use disorders.” A native of Maine, Lisa earned her nursing credentials at the University of Pennsylvania. She now lives in Littleton, where she enjoys hitting the slopes at Loon Mountain. She is a returning board member, having served a term as treasurer.

Joan Ascheim Small  This article was written by Joan Ascheim, Interim Executive Director

 As 2017 draws to a close it provides time to pause and reflect and, at the same time, contemplate the year before us. During 2017 we said thank you to Katie Robert for her years of dedicated, exemplary leadership as Board President. We welcomed Rebecca Sky as our new and highly capable Board President. Rebecca has hit the ground running and brings a keen intellect, analytic mind and tremendous commitment to the role. Beth D’Ovidio joined our staff in the spring as program assistant extraordinaire. We have benefited greatly from her tremendous organizational skills and her vast communications experience.

Our annual meeting in April drew our largest number of participants to date with 225 in attendance, with 100 of those being students who presented 27 poster sessions. We saw record attendance too at our Team Up, Take Action: Partnering for Health Equity conference. It was a highly successful collaboration with the Vermont Health Department and Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

We maintained a visible presence at the legislature thanks to dedicated cadre of volunteers. We did our best to stay connected to you, our members, through this newsletter, the Health in All Policies newsletter and Facebook.

As you know, NHPHA is a relatively small non-profit and volunteers have been and remain the mainstay of our activities and success. On behalf of the board, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers for the giving of their time, wisdom, expertise and dedication.

I am grateful for the decision made by the board to bring me on as Interim Executive Director to assist in realizing its strategic imperatives and to grow the organization. To that end, the board has just approved a growth plan that charts a course for expansion and sustainability. We anticipate increasing and diversifying our funding base which will allow us to expand our staff and enhance our work in our three key areas: workforce development, policy and advocacy and public health messaging. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.
On behalf of the board and staff, we thank you for being part of our NHPHA family and wish you health, happiness, peace and joy in the New Year.

Best, Joan
Two weeks ago NHPHA co-hosted with the Vermont Public Health Association and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center a first ever bi-state public health conference.  The Team Up, Take Action:  Partnering for Health Equity event built on last year’s successful collaboration with Dartmouth Hitchcock.  The result was an outstanding, inspirational day. 

Dr. Jim Weinstein, DO, MS kicked off the morning with a far reaching talk that began with sharing his experience leading the committee for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to develop the Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity Report.  Dr. Weinstein spoke of the drivers that are pushing health care out of hospitals and into communities and homes.  He called for public health entities and other health sector organizations to build internal capacity to engage community partners and coalitions to address the social and economic determinants of health.   He made clear the importance of building trust to be successful in this work.   

The day featured 12 breakout sessions highlighting the amazing work of our colleagues from NH, VT and CT.  There were opportunities to learn new ideas and skills to broaden our impact for both the seasoned professionals and the students in attendance.  

The day concluded, thanks to our partnership with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the Schumann Lecture, with a talk by Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD.  She shared her thoughts on the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of our nation through the telling of her own allegories.  If you missed her, definitely check out her Tedx Talk.  As the adage goes, “It may not be our responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but we are not free to desist either.” Dr. Jones stressed the necessity of long-term commitment to this work to have impact.

This event could not have happened without such a dedicated and flexible planning team.  A special thank you to NHPHA leaders Neil Twitchell our Program Planning Committee Chair, Board Member Mary Ann Aldrich, our Interim Executive Director Joan Ascheim, and Beth D’Ovidio our Program Assistant.  And thank you to our planning partners from Dartmouth including, Sally Kraft, Karen Borgstrom, and Cathy Marrow, along with the VTPHA folks, Jessica French, Sally Kerschner, and Burt Wilcke. 

And a heartfelt thank you to our event sponsors for their commitment towards events like this that develop the public health workforce:  Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, UVM Medical Center, New England Public Health Training Center, Delta Dental, Foundation for Healthy Communities, Community Health Institute/JSI, Vermont Department of Health, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, New Hampshire Pediatric Society, Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center, Master of Public Health University of New Hampshire, HNH Foundation, Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, NH Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, NH Division of Public Health Services,  UNH Department of Health Management and Policy, Mid-State Health Center, NH Nurses Association, NAMI New Hampshire.

Happy Holidays,

Rebecca
(Written by Meghan Farrell, Communications Coordinator, New-Futures)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes critical provisions that have been instrumental in keeping New Hampshire healthy, like prohibiting health insurance companies from refusing coverage, mandating individual health insurance coverage, and providing financial assistance to those who have difficulty affording health care. Potentially the most crucial benefit that New Hampshire gained from the ACA, though, was the state’s ability to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.
Since New Hampshire expanded Medicaid in 2014, more than 120,000 low-income Granite Staters have been able to access the healthcare they need and deserve. Currently, more than 50,000 of our state’s most vulnerable citizens have access to critical healthcare, including substance use disorder treatment services, thanks to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP), New Hampshire’s version of Medicaid expansion.

There is no doubt that New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic is the number one public health issue we are currently facing as a state. The epidemic resulted in the loss of almost 500 lives in 2016 and has cost New Hampshire approximately $2.3 billion annually.

Experts agree that the NHHPP is among the state’s most critical tools in combatting our devastating opioid epidemic, since it includes one of the most robust substance use disorder benefit arrays in the country. Specifically, the NHHPP, which has been created and funded in New Hampshire only because of the ACA, allows substance use disorder treatment and recovery in two very important ways:
  • Increasing New Hampshire’s treatment capacity: The NHHPP has more than doubled our state’s treatment capacity, with more than 11,000 Granite Staters utilizing their NHHPP coverage to access addiction treatment. Before Medicaid Expansion, New Hampshire had a treatment capacity of only 4,000 – 6,000. Luckily, when the crisis reached its height, the state was able to provide services to twice as many individuals as just two years earlier, thanks to the ACA.
  • Allowing access to drug court programs: Drug court programs have proven to be incredibly effective in helping those with substance use disorders enter recovery. In order to participate, those seeking treatment must pay for their services or have insurance coverage that does. Without the NHHPP, a large percentage of drug court participants who are now working and in recovery would have been unable to get the supports they needed.
Advocates, experts, and lawmakers all agree that we need innovative solutions to the opioid epidemic, which is dramatically affecting children, families, and individuals in the Granite State at alarming levels. The NHHPP, and as a result the ACA, is one of New Hampshire’s most effective and innovative solutions to this public health crisis. As a state, we have come too far in our fight against addiction to turn back now.
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