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Esther Muña and other Territorial Health Leaders Testify Before Congress

Esther Muña and other Territorial Health Leaders Testify Before CongressOn May 23, Esther Muña (THO-CNMI) and territorial health leaders from Guam, Puerto Rico, America Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands testified before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Their testimonies focused on the need for increased federal Medicaid contributions in the territories, as well as the health consequences that would result without these contributions. “Low federal contributions, coupled with exhaustion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funds this year, creates a fiscal cliff for our Medicaid program,” Muña said. “This fiscal cliff threatens to unweave our substantial improvements over the past ten years in the delivery of healthcare, further erodes our economy, and threatens the health and well-being of our people.”

ASTHO Supports Grants Management Business Improvement Work in Puerto Rico

ASTHO Supports Grants Management Business Improvement Work in Puerto RicoOn May 15-16, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement team facilitated the first of three in-person business process improvement workshops at the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH). Over 20 PRDOH staff and external government stakeholders participated in the development of three key PRDOH business processes maps: property, procurement, and travel. These maps will be essential to the agency in developing standard operating procedures for key financial processes and implementation throughout the agency. This work is a collaborative effort involving ASTHO, CDC, and PRDOH.

Idaho and ASTHO Host Boundary Spanning Workshop

Idaho and ASTHO Host Boundary Spanning WorkshopOn May 21, Elke Shaw-Tulloch (SHO-ID) and the Idaho Department of Health hosted an ASTHO Boundary Spanning Leadership workshop, with leaders from each bureau within the department participating. The purpose of the workshop was to look at how the bureaus could work together to adopt the 2019 ASTHO President’s Challenge, “Building Healthy and Resilient Communities,” by expanding their vision for “Get Healthy Idaho.” This workshop was conducted with support from CDC for a pilot project looking at braiding and layering funding sources to address social determinants of health and foundational public health capabilities.

ASTHO Strategizes Culture of Quality Efforts in Guam

ASTHO Strategizes Culture of Quality Efforts in GuamOn May 21-24, Guam's senior leadership and quality improvement council worked with ASTHO staff to strategize efforts to improve Guam's culture of quality. This included facilitating a self-assessment activity to identify gaps and opportunities to strengthen Guam's quality improvement plan and implement a performance management system. The discussions have been valuable in identifying opportunities and challenges. The team is looking forward to process mapping current and future performance management system components with QI council members and other programmatic staff.

ASTHO Atlanta Staff Attends Grand Rounds on Legionella

ASTHO Atlanta Staff Attends Grand Rounds on LegionellaOn May 21, staff from ASTHO’s regional office in Atlanta attended CDC’s Grand Rounds, “Turning the Tide: The Role of Water Management to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.” Jay Butler (alumnus-AK), ASTHO past-president and current deputy director for infectious diseases at CDC, introduced the panel, which included perspectives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Panelists discussed the burden Legionnaires’ disease places on the public health and healthcare systems, environmental health’s role in preventing Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the importance of building public health capacity around this important issue.

ASTHO Convenes Senior Deputies Annual Meeting

ASTHO Convenes Senior Deputies Annual MeetingOn May 5-8, ASTHO convened the 26th Senior Deputies Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, providing an opportunity to strengthen relationships between state, territorial, and federal partners, as well as share programmatic priorities and best practices in public health. Senior deputies from over 25 state and territorial health agencies, CDC, and the de Beaumont Foundation, came together to discuss the public health challenges impacting states and territories, emerging trends, as well as strategies and tools to advance the public’s health and well-being. On May 5, new senior deputies attended several orientation sessions providing resources to equip them for their new positions. Rafael Rodríguez Mercado (THO-PR) and Catherine de la Cruz Duran (THO Designee-PR) provided welcoming remarks. Participants then heard from peers and partners about experiences engaging the business community, strategies on implementing national data standards to advance information exchange, as well as building and strengthening the public health workforce. CDC deputies led round table discussions on key programs, with participants asking questions and sharing successes and challenges. Additionally, colleagues from Puerto Rico shared firsthand perspectives on response and recovery efforts following hurricanes Irma and Maria. Before finishing the annual meeting, senior deputies along with chief financial officers attended a workshop on positive change leadership and appreciative inquiry.

ASTHO Hosts Montana Department of Health Site Visit

ASTHO Hosts Montana Department of Health Site VisitOn May 9, ASTHO’s Center for Population Health Strategies hosted a site visit with the Montana Department of Health in Helena as part of the clinical to community connections team’s Telehealth Learning Community. The meeting included stakeholders working together toward advancing behavioral telehealth, including Sheila Hogan (SHO-MO). The meeting featured two panels on telehealth programs and reimbursement, a presentation from Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, as well as a brainstorming session.

ASTHO and CDC Host PfS-DDPI Awardee Meeting

ASTHO and CDC Host PfS-DDPI Awardee MeetingOn May 13-15, ASTHO and CDC hosted the 2019 Prevention for States (PfS)/Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI) Awardee Meeting in Atlanta. The week began with a pre-meeting workshop for state health officials. ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser introduced the meeting, along with Grant Baldwin CDC’s director of the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, and Sarah Bacon, CDC’s lead behavioral scientist on the Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Team. State health officials in attendance included Jeanne Ayers (SHO-WI), Scott Harris (SHO-AL), Gregory Holzman (SHO Designee-MO), Kathy Kunkel (SHO-NM), Mark Levine (SHO-VT), LaQuandra Nesbitt (SHO-DC), and Lisa Piercy (SHO-TN). During the pre-meeting, conversation centered around assessing the purpose and utility of state opioid data dashboards, understanding the potential need for and benefits of standardization of dashboard data elements, building consensus around which dashboard elements could feasibly be standardized, as well as discussion on the future of such dashboards and how they might be leveraged to respond to other substance use crises. The broader meeting comprised breakout sessions showcasing the efforts of PfS/DDPI awardees and partners as they move beyond implementation to achieve impact. Sessions highlighted state accomplishments, innovative strategies, and key collaborations in the fight against the opioid overdose epidemic.

ASTHO Supports NAVCO’s 2019 Annual Meeting

ASTHO Supports NAVCO 2019 Annual MeetingOn May 15-16, ASTHO’s environmental health team, with support from CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, helped facilitate the 2019 National Association of Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials (NAVCO) Annual Meeting in Fort Collins, CO. The meeting featured a variety of speakers discussing various vector-borne disease topics, including emerging and re-emerging arboviral diseases, technical aspects of tick surveillance, and state perspectives on insecticide resistance testing. The NAVCO board also convened for a meeting to discuss future priorities and activities for the association. Additionally, ASTHO’s state health policy and environmental health teams discussed their ongoing vector-borne disease work.

ASTHO Hosts Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Peer Network

ASTHO Hosts CFO Peer NetworkOn May 8-9, ASTHO convened a CFO Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to discuss the financial management of public health emergencies. Participants heard about experiences responding to and recovering from natural disasters and public health threats, as well as innovative funding strategies. Esther Muna (THO-CNMI) and Catherine de la Cruz-Duran (THO-PR), as well as Tatia Monell-Hewitt, CFO for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, and Derek Sasamoto, CFO for the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Health Corporation, discussed post-typhoon and post-hurricane financial recovery and sustainability for CNMI and Puerto Rico, with an emphasis on what health departments can learn from these experiences.

In addition, CFOs shared how administrative processes can delay receiving and spending critical emergency public health dollars, as well as how they successfully navigated these challenges. Anna Novais, senior deputy of the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Amy Ferris, Chief Financial Officer of the Washington State Department of Health, also shared current efforts to fund foundational services and prevention activities in the absence of dedicated funding. CDC deputy directors joined CFOs to discuss opportunities to further collaborate on communication, grants, and financial competency. The CFO meeting was preceded by a joint training with participants from the ASTHO Senior Deputy Annual Meeting, which focused on strengthening management through positive change leadership.

ASTHO Launches HPV Project ECHO

ASTHO Launches HPV Project ECHOOn May 1, ASTHO launched a new learning community based on Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), an education and collaboration model. This initiative aims to establish multidisciplinary state teams and create knowledge networks for sharing evidence-based strategies and promising practices related to HPV, with the goal of ultimately improving HPV vaccination rates across the nation.

Second ASTHO Week

On April 29-May 2, ASTHO hosted its second ASTHO Week. As a teleworking organization, ASTHO Week brings together all staff in ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, for a week of collaboration, discussion, teambuilding, and organizational strategy. A few highlights from the week include:

ASTHO Volunteers at the DC Central Kitchen

ASTHO Volunteers at the DC Central Kitchen (April 2019)On April 29, the DC Central Kitchen welcomed ASTHO volunteers to help cut, chop, peel, and prep food in the community kitchen. ASTHO enjoyed learning about the organization and its commitment to building a more equitable, healthy food system.

Opioid Overdoes Reversal and Prevention Training

Opioid Overdoes Reversal and Prevention Training (April 2019)On April 30, the Chris Atwood Foundation hosted a training with ASTHO staff about how to recognize an opioid overdose and administer lifesaving naloxone, sparking an important conversation about stigma, medication-assisted treatment, and recovery.

Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal HealthOn April 30, Shereef Elnahal (SHO-NJ) and Saanie Sulley, data analyst for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, discussed health equity and solutions to address racial disparities in infant and maternal mortality.

Wings and Public Health Things!

Wings and Public Health Things_April 2019On May 1, Jerry Rhodes, ASTHO’s director of crisis response preparedness, and Alex Seifert, ASTHO’s senior analyst of preparedness and epidemiology, hosted a COOP Presentation to discuss ASTHO’s emergency response plans. Following the presentation, staff gathered to sample wings and eat ice cream.

ASTHO Attends Rx Summit

ASTHO Attends Rx SummitOn April 22-25, ASTHO’s social and behavioral team attended the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, a national collaboration of professionals from local, state, and federal agencies, treatment providers, and other sectors impacted by prescription drug abuse and heroin use. President Trump headlined the event, delivering the keynote address, in which he discussed the Administration’s plans to address the ongoing national opioid epidemic. It is the event for decision makers and allied professionals working to address this public health emergency. John Dreyzehner (alumnus-TN) also presented at the summit, moderating a panel focused on improving outcomes for pregnant women with opioid use disorder, and their infants.

ASTHO/NACDD Host Breast Cancer Disparities Meeting in West Virginia

ASTHO/NACDD Host Breast Cancer Disparities Meeting in West VirginiaOn April 23, Josh Berry, ASTHO’s senior analyst of chronic disease prevention, visited Charleston, West Virginia, with members of the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program and other community and clinical stakeholders as part of the breast cancer disparities in-person/virtual meeting organized with NACDD. Facilitators from ASTHO and NACDD joined health agency and external stakeholder teams in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Participants engaged in learning and information sharing as a large group, as well as action plan brainstorming to support state health agencies in addressing breast cancer disparities with data-driven action steps.

ASTHO Presents at Aging in America Conference

ASTHO Presents at Aging in America ConferenceOn April 17, Kelsey Donnellan, ASTHO’s senior analyst of health improvement, presented at the Aging in America Conference in New Orleans. The session, entitled “Starting Conversations About Dementia in Indian Country: A Public Health Road Map,” included a panel discussion with experts from the Alzheimer’s Association, CDC, the International Association for Indigenous Aging, and Splaine Consulting. ASTHO’s presentation focused on the recently released resource, “Communicating in Indian Country: Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain.” Donnellan reviewed the role of ASTHO in state public health, outlined the participatory process used to develop the communication materials, and discussed how they can be used. State and tribal partnerships are important to supporting American Indian and Alaska Native people living with, or at risk for, dementia, as many live off reservation and in urban cities. The full resources can be found on ASTHO’s website.

ASTHO and Partners Leads Business Improvement Work in Marshall Islands

ASTHO and Partners Leads Business Improvement Work in Marshall IslandsLast week, ASTHO’s Performance Improvement, Research and Evaluation team led business process improvement work in the Marshall Islands. A memorandum of understanding and three accompanying standard operating procedures (SOPs) in grants management, procurement, and recruitment were developed and reviewed with the participation of the five cabinet-level agencies charged with implementation. Pictured during the signing of the SOPs are (from left to right): the Public Service Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the Chief Secretary. The work is a collaborative effort involving ASTHO, CDC, PIHOA, the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ Ministry of Health. Additionally, ASTHO facilitated cross-agency conversations to helped broker agreements to work on the following:

  • Reducing the number of signatures required for relatively small-cost requisitions.
  • Establishing standing orders for pharmaceuticals and lab supplied that will be (re)completed on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.
  • Expedited procurement procedures for outbreaks and other public health events that do not yet rise to the level of national emergencies covered by the National Disaster Act.

ASTHO CEO Presents Strategic Plan to CDC, CSTLTS

ASTHO CEO Presents Strategic Plan to CDC CSTLTSOn April 15, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser presented to CDC, CSTLTS, and technical monitors in Atlanta. CSTLTS Director Jose Montero (alumnus-NH) introduced and then turned discussion over to Fraser. During the presentation, Fraser laid out ASTHO’s strategic plan to improve capacity at state and territorial public health departments. A focus of the presentations was ASTHO’s capacity building and technical assistance framework, which aims to further support state and territorial public health through capacity building, technical assistance, and thought leadership. Throughout the presentation, Fraser emphasized ASTHO’s focus on strategic foresight when assessing state priorities, as well the importance of being precise and predictive. ASTHO thanks CDC, CSTLTS, and CSTLTS Director Jose Montero for hosting the presentation.

ASTHO's Center for Population Health Strategies Speaks at Nebraska's Minority Health Conference

ASTHO Center for Population Health Strategies Speaks at Nebraska Minority Health ConferenceOn April 17, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity hosted Deborah Fournier, ASTHO’s senior director of clinical to community connections, and Priyanka Surio, ASTHO’s director of data analytics and public health informatics. Fournier and Surio led several sessions during the department’s Minority Health Conference, with a focus on uniting practice and partnerships to achieve health equity. Fournier led the morning keynote session on how cross-sector initiatives, such as the Accountable Health Communities model, can improve health outcomes for low-income and minority communities to advance health equity. Surio led a breakout session on building an informatics-savvy public health infrastructure to explore the skills, technologies, and strategies necessary for capturing and displaying social determinants of health data. Fournier also led a breakout session highlighting ASTHO’s 2019 President’s Challenge, “Building Healthy and Resilient Communities.”

Primary Care Office Directors Training Academy Kicks Off

Primary Care Office Directors Training Academy Kicks Off April 2019On April 16-17, ASTHO and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health hosted a meeting with Primary Care Office (PCO) directors and HRSA at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. The meeting familiarized participants with major components of PCO work and also served to build working relationships between PCO directors who are able to consult and strategize with one another. In addition, the meeting provided new PCO directors with an opportunity to seek mentorship and expert advice from colleagues.

ASTHO Hosts Site Visit at Florida Department of Health

ASTHO Hosts Site Visit at Florida Department of HealthOn April 9, ASTHO’s Center for Population Health Strategies hosted a site visit with the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee, FL. The site visit was part of the Clinical to Community Connections team’s Telehealth Learning Community. The half-day meeting included stakeholders working toward advancing behavioral health services in school settings. The meeting featured a presentation from Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy. Lloyd Sirmons, director of the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center, provided a telehealth demonstration.

ASTHO Attends CIFOR Meeting

ASTHO Attends CIFOR MeetingLast week, Abe Kulungara, ASTHO’s senior director of environmental health, attended the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) meeting in Dallas. CIFOR is a multidisciplinary collaboration of national associations and federal agencies working together since 2006 to improve methods to detect, investigate, control and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. CIFOR members met in Dallas to finalize the third edition of CIFOR’s Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response, a comprehensive resource for federal, state, and local agencies involved in investigating foodborne outbreaks.

ASTHO Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Protecting Moms and Babies

ASTHO Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Protecting Moms and BabiesOn April 4, ASTHO co-sponsored and supported a congressional briefing entitled “Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies: Protecting Vulnerable Populations During and After Public Health Emergencies.” Over 100 congressional staffers and stakeholders attended the session, which covered issues impacting mothers and babies such as Zika and how lessons learned can help inform tracking, detection, and care in future public health emergencies. Speakers included Margaret (Peggy) Honein, director of CDC’s Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Honein emphasized preparedness: “We don’t want to repeat history,” she said. “We want to stop the next Zika.” Lacy M. Fehrenbach, assistant secretary of prevention and community health at the Washington State Department of Health, described how Washington state uses data from home visiting to plan and support vulnerable communities during emergencies. “We don’t know what the next Zika is,” Fehrenbach said, “but we do have the ability to find it more quickly.”

ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement Training

ASTHO Hosts Public Health Systems Improvement TrainingDuring the week of April 1, ASTHO’s performance improvement team convened a public health systems improvement workshop with eight states and two territories: Alaska, Arizona, CNMI, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin. This was part of the state and territorial Public Health Systems Improvement CBTA Project. The workshop focused on change management, engaging leadership, and leading and facilitating teams in support of planning, performance management, and accreditation. ASTHO staff and consultants helped participants build connections, discover existing resources, brainstorm, and problem solve. Over the next four months, these states and territories will implement public health improvement in their health agencies through systems thinking and pragmatic planning.

ASTHO Attends Public Health Preparedness Summit

ASTHO Attends Public Health Preparedness SummitLast week, ASTHO’s preparedness and infectious disease teams attended the Public Health Preparedness Summit in St. Louis. ASTHO led or co-led several activities, including the PHEP-HPP awardee meeting, a town hall on repatriating U.S. citizens following an international disaster, as well as meetings of the directors of public health preparedness, medical countermeasures coordinators, territorial representatives, and directly funded cities. In addition, Randall Williams (SHO-MO), Nate Smith (SHO-AR), Cathy Slemp (SHO-WV), and Marissa Levine (alumna-VA) participated in a tabletop exercise focused on difficult policy issues and solutions arising from an evolving pandemic. Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security, led the National Academies workshop on exploring medical and public health preparedness for a nuclear incident. Randall Williams delivered a welcome speech during the opening session of the summit, which brought together more than 1,900 public health preparedness professionals.

ASTHO President Speaks at NNPHI’s Open Forum in Philadelphia

ASTHO President Speaks at NNPHI Open Forum in PhiladelphiaOn March 28, ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) spoke during a plenary session at the Open Forum for Quality Improvement and Innovation in Public Health conference, hosted by the National Network of Public Health Institutes. The dialogue focused on framing community resilience as a public health strategy. Dr. Alexander-Scott described Rhode Island’s first set of statewide health equity indicators, which offer a look at civic engagement, social vulnerability, and equitable housing policies. She was joined by several other panelists to discuss community cohesion, engagement, and health equity, including NACCHO President Kevin Sumner, John Auerbach (alumnus-MA), president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, and Alonzo Plough, vice president for research-evaluation-learning and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

ASTHO Environmental Health’s Busy Week

The past week has been busy for ASTHO’s environmental health team. See below for highlights from the week!

ASTHO Meets New ECOS Executive Director

ASTHO Meets New ECOS Executive DirectorOn March 19, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser, along with Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security, and Abe Kulungara, ASTHO’s senior director of environmental health, met with Donald Welsh, the new executive director of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and Carolyn Hanson, the deputy director at ECOS. EPA, ECOS, and ASTHO have a Memorandum of Agreement on public health and environmental collaboration that will advance the parties’ mutually shared mission of protecting the public’s health from environmental threats and hazards. At the meeting in Washington D.C., ASTHO and ECOS underlined the need to collaborate in enhancing communication and developing resources around contaminants like Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

ASTHO Attends State Presentations on PFAS Biomonitoring Projects

ASTHO Attends State Presentations on PFAS Biomonitoring ProjectsAlso on March 19, Kathy Dolan, ASTHO’s director of environmental health, and Nicholas Porter, ASTHO’s senior analyst for environmental health, along with leadership from CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), attended presentations from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) on their recently completed PFAS biomonitoring projects. The presentations took place at CDC’s Chamblee campus in Atlanta. The projects implemented and evaluated CDC/ATSDR’s PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools (PEATT), a step-by-step protocol for assessing a community’s exposures to PFAS in affected communities in both states.

ASTHO Discusses Food Safety Policy on Capitol Hill

ASTHO Discusses Food Safety Policy on Capitol HillOn March 14-15, ASTHO brought several state health officials and other members of the environmental health and infectious disease policy committees to Washington, D.C. to discuss policy implications around new and emerging methods to detect foodborne disease, capacity building for foodborne outbreak response, and the identification of opportunities and strategies for successful interagency collaboration. The meeting featured presentations on whole genome sequencing and culture independent diagnostic testing, One Health, and cannabidiol (CBD) infused foods. Officials from CDC, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, FDA, and USDA provided updates on food safety priorities and initiatives.

ASTHO Speaks to PHAB Board

ASTHO Speaks to PHAB BoardOn March 20, Danny Staley, ASTHO’s chief of Caribbean operations, and Joya Coffman, ASTHO’s senior director of performance improvement, presented an update on crisis funding and ongoing work in the Caribbean at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) meeting. Staley began the presentation with an overview of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, highlighting the response ASTHO is leading as part of its crisis work with CDC. This work includes supplemental staffing, equipment purchases, and contracting for impactful public health system improvements. One important area ASTHO highlighted to the board is business processes improvement technical assistance and training that ASTHO is providing to expand public health capacity to implement streamlined and standardized processes in financial management, procurement, and human resources. PHAB board members and federal partners underscored the critical role of public health departments and national partner organizations in crisis recovery efforts from the lens of both immediate workforce and resource deployment, as well as executive leader mentorship and support.

John Wiesman Co-Chairs PACHA Meeting

John Wiesman Co-Chairs PACHA MeetingOn March 14-15, John Wiesman (SHO-WA) co-chaired the 63rd Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Meeting in Washington, D.C. In his opening remarks, Wiesman called for bold action to defeat HIV/AIDS in America. He highlighted the importance of working across sectors to deploy effective prevention and treatment interventions, provide timely access to affordable healthcare services, and tackle stigma. He emphasized that discrimination of all kinds and social determinants of heath must be addressed to end the epidemic. “As one state who has had an initiative to end AIDS, we look forward to working with each other and learning more from each other to pull together best practices,” said Wiesman. HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and leadership from HRSA, NIH, SAMHSA, and IHS discussed the initiative to end HIV and PACHA’s critical role in influencing and impacting this historic effort.

ASTHO’s 2019 Washington Week

From March 11-15, ASTHO hosted its annual Washington Week. See below for highlights from the week!

Washington Week: Inaugural ASTHO Policy Academy

Inaugural ASTHO Policy AcademyTo kick off the week, ASTHO hosted an in-person training for its inaugural Policy Academy on March 11-12. The ASTHO Policy Academy, designed and conducted with the assistance of CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy, helps state health agency leaders develop and strengthen their policy skills. Teams from three state health agencies attended, representing the Arkansas Department of Health, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Each team was made up of health officials, senior deputies, legislative liaisons, legal counsel, and program staff. During the Policy Academy, they received training on key steps in the policy development process, including policy analysis, policy communication, engaging stakeholders, and policy development.

Washington Week: Insular Areas Subcommittee Dinner Meeting

Insular Areas Subcommittee Dinner Meeting 2019Esther Muña (THO-CNMI) chaired the Insular Affairs Subcommittee meeting on March 11. The subcommittee provides a forum for ASTHO’s members to exchange information on policy challenges and solutions within the Pacific and Atlantic jurisdictions. The subcommittee identified policy priorities for consideration by the full government relations committee and ASTHO board. It is believed that this is the first time that jurisdictions in the Pacific and the Atlantic have collaborated on a shared public health policy agenda along with states with relatively large numbers of island populations.

Washington Week: Leading in Government Workshop

ASTHO Leading in Government WorkshopOn March 12, ASTHO facilitated a workshop in partnership with the Georgetown Law Center. Attendees were joined by John Monahan, senior advisor for global health at Georgetown University, and Howard Koh (alumnus-MA), professor of public health leadership at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School. The workshop covered a wide range of topics and offered practical tips on meeting with members of Congress, engaging governors’ offices, leveraging state Medicaid dollars for public health programs, and overcoming regulatory obstacles in state government.

Washington Week: OMB Dinner with ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and Big Cities Health Coalition

OMB Dinner with ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and Big Cities Health CoalitionOn Tuesday evening, March 12, ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, and the Big Cities Health Coalition attended a combined dinner at the Washington Marriott Georgetown to illuminate the important public health work done across states, territories, and localities. The group heard a presentation from Marc Garufi, chief of the public health branch at the Office of Management and Budget, about the current budget environment.

Washington Week: ASTHO and NACCHO Host “Meet and Greet” at Russell Senate Office Building

ASTHO and NACCHO Host Meet and Greet at Russell Senate Office BuildingThe following morning, on March 13, ASTHO and NACCHO sponsored a “meet and greet” breakfast reception before their annual Hill Day. State and local health officials assembled in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room to network and prepare for the day ahead. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) shared opening remarks reinforcing the value of public health work and caught up with Rhode Island’s health official, ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott.

Washington Week: 2019 Hill Day: ASTHO and NACCHO Members Meet with Members of Congress

2019 Hill Day: ASTHO and NACCHO Members Meet with Members of CongressOn March 13, ASTHO and NACCHO members took to Capitol Hill to share a unified message about the critical need to sustain investments in public health agencies that protect and promote the health of all Americans and prevent sequester cuts in the FY20 budget. The day consisted of meetings with members of Congress. Health officials discussed public health issues and priorities impacting their constituents, encouraging Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to support funding levels for CDC and other important public health programs. Check out #PublicHealthOnTheHill on Twitter for more coverage and photos from the day!


Washington Week: ASTHO Members Meet with HHS Leadership

Health officials meet with several HHS leaders during Washington WeekFollowing Wednesday’s meetings on Capitol Hill, health officials met with several HHS leaders, including Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, and Nafisa Jiwani, Deputy Senior Advisor for Value-Based Care at HHS. Giroir invited ideas and feedback on ways the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health can support work at the state level around several key priorities, including efforts to address the opioid epidemic, eliminate HIV, and counter anti-vaccine rhetoric. Kadlec spoke about the importance of maintaining a robust public health preparedness infrastructure to respond to a variety of incidents and threats, including measles, Ebola, and natural disasters. Jiwani outlined several of the HHS Secretary’s initiatives to transform healthcare into a more value-oriented system, citing opportunities related to health IT, interoperability, and data sharing.

Washington Week: ASTHO Meets with SAMHSA and HRSA Leadership

ASTHO Meets with SAMHSA and HRSA LeadershipOn March 15, ASTHO members convened with SAMHSA and HRSA leadership for a discussion on substance abuse trends, budgeting, and collaboration between state and federal agencies. Elinore McCance-Katz, SAMHSA’s assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, started the morning with a presentation on the latest national substance use and mental health data. HRSA Administrator George Sigounas followed with a discussion on how state and federal agencies can work together to stretch their budgets and maximize programmatic impact. Sigounas held a Q&A session, during which ASTHO members presented the needs of their states and inquired about the role federal agencies can play in solutions.

Washington Week: ASTHO Board of Directors Meets

ASTHO Board of Directors Meets March 2019On March 14, the ASTHO Board of Directors convened in Washington, D.C. The board heard a presentation from Steven Reynolds, MPH, deputy director of CSTLTS, and discussed several important operational items.

ASTHO Convenes PRISM Learning Community Policy Academy

ASTHO Convenes PRISM Learning Community Policy AcademyOn March 9, ASTHO’s maternal and child health team, in partnership with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), convened the Promoting Innovation in State and Territorial MCH Policymaking (PRISM) Learning Community Policy Academy. Six states and territories participated in cohort 1 of PRISM, including Arkansas, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Iowa, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington state. Gerd Clabaugh (SHO-IA) attended and provided invaluable guidance to the Iowa state team. Presenters included HRSA, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. The National Conference of State Legislatures presented on their new MCH database tool which tracks enacted state laws on fourteen different topics. Through facilitated sessions, teams identified priorities and drafted action plans they will use during the PRISM Learning Community to support public health policy implementation related to MCH mental health and substance misuse and addiction.

House Subcommittee on Environment Hearing: Examining PFAS Chemicals and their Risks

House Subcommittee on Environment Hearing: Examining PFAS Chemicals and their RisksOn March 6, the House Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on PFAS chemicals and their risks to human health. The hearing featured testimony from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Daniel Kildee, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Dave Ross, as well as the Department of Defense (DoD) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment, Maureen Sullivan. Both Rep. Fitzpatrick and Rep. Kildee focused their testimony on the urgent need for DoD, EPA, and other federal public health agencies to address PFAS contamination in drinking water and protect the public from future exposures. Rep. Kildee underscored the need to focus on contaminated site cleanup, while Rep. Fitzpatrick urged EPA to set legally enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Act. Ross discussed EPA’s newly released PFAS Action Plan, noting that designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA and moving forward with the MCL process as outlined under the Safe Drinking Water Act are both included in the plan. EPA will soon release interim groundwater clean-up recommendations. Sullivan outlined DoD’s actions to reduce exposures to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at the 24 DoD installations that tested above EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion combined for PFOA and PFOS, as well as their efforts to clean up contamination at the 401 military installation sites with known or suspected releases of PFOA or PFOS into the environment. More information on the hearing, including a video archive and links to written witness testimonies, can be found here.

ASTHO and CDC Host Meeting on Strengthening Community-Clinical Linkages to Improve Health Outcomes

ASTHO and CDC Host Meeting on Strengthening Community-Clinical Linkages to Improve Health OutcomesOn March 6-7, ASTHO, in partnership with CDC, hosted a convening that showcased examples of successful and innovative collaborations between healthcare and community-based partners to address health-related social needs, with a particular focus on transportation and food insecurity. Public health officials, Medicaid directors, CMS Accountable Health Communities bridge organizations, federal partners, philanthropies, and private insurance providers discussed their roles in strengthening multi-sector partnerships. Pictured below is Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of CDC, who spoke at the meeting.

ESOOS Partner Meeting

ESOOS Partner MeetingOn Feb. 27-28, ASTHO, in partnership with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, convened the Enhanced State Opioid Overdose (ESOOS) Partner Meeting in Atlanta. The meeting featured presentations on CDC’s response to the opioid epidemic, as well as an in-depth look into the ESOOS program and upcoming funding. The meeting focused on how CDC ESOOS strategies interact with and complement other organizations’ current opioid work and how information might be used synergistically to achieve goals. Attendees discussed challenges faced related to mortality and morbidity surveillance data and brainstormed solutions.

Arkansas’ Nate Smith Attends Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

Nate Smith AK Attends ACIPOn Feb. 27-28, Nate Smith (SHO-AR) attended ACIP in Atlanta as a representative on behalf of ASTHO. ACIP develops vaccine recommendations for children and adults in the United States. Recommendations include the age when the vaccine should be given, the number of doses needed, the amount of time between doses, precautions, and contraindications. Before recommending a vaccine, ACIP considers many factors, including vaccine safety and efficacy. During the session, ACIP voted on recommendations for Japanese Encephalitis and anthrax vaccines. There were also several informational sessions on influenza, human papillomavirus, pneumococcal, meningococcal, zoster, and hepatitis vaccines.

ASTHO CEO Discusses State and Territorial Public Health at Harvard

ASTHO CEO Discusses State and Territorial Public Health at Harvard On Feb. 26, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser spoke to students at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, providing an overview on state and territorial public health, then presented at an all-school lecture on “Threats and Opportunities to State and Territorial Public Health.” The presentation focused on the people, programs, policies, and priorities of ASTHO members and ASTHO’s work in Washington, D.C. Both lectures were opportunities for students to learn more about the work of state and territorial public health and consider careers in government in the future.

ASTHO and Partners Host 4th Texas Opioid Workshop

ASTHO and Partners Host 4th Texas Opioid WorkshopOn Feb. 13, ASTHO, with funding from CDC’s Opioid Crisis Jurisdictional Support program and in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, hosted a regional workshop in Austin, TX, to discuss access and analysis around state and local opioid-related data. Thirty-six participants attended from state, local, and tribal governmental agencies, along with healthcare organizations and providers. Participants were trained on how to analyze data from a public health perspective, access and use the state’s data visualization website, and how to use the state’s syndromic surveillance reporting system.

ASTHO Hosts Public Health Leadership Roundtable

Public Health Leadership Roundtable attendeesOn Feb. 14, ASTHO convened the first meeting of the Public Health Leadership Roundtable at ASTHO’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. The roundtable, which included 40 partner organizations with an interest in state and territorial public health, discussed common concerns and challenges around national and federal policy for public health agencies. The assembled organizations shared legislative agendas, with the goal of strengthening communication and coordination around state and territorial public health leadership and policy.

ASTHO Emphasizes the Role of Public Health at the HIMSS19 Global Conference

ASTHO attendees at the HIMSS19 Global ConferenceOn Feb. 11-15, ASTHO attended the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) 2019 Global Conference in Orlando. State health officials in attendance included Mylynn Tufte (SHO-ND), Gerd Clabaugh (SHO-IA), and Shereef Elnahal (SHO-NJ), all of whom participated on several educational sessions, learning labs, and roundtable events. On Feb. 12, ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser delivered the keynote address during the HIMSS State and Local Policy Luncheon, describing how to build a national public health informatics and IT infrastructure through people and processes. On Feb. 13, ASTHO hosted an ignite session and lunch to learn more about burning issues, success stories, and key priorities from state health officials, informatics directors, national partners, and federal representatives. ASTHO’s presence at HIMSS represents a great leap forward in elevating the role of public health, as we continue to communicate public health’s role in connecting systems and data across multiple sectors.