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ASTHO’s guiding principles on Achieving Optimal Health for All remind us that state and territorial health agencies play a critical role in creating and supporting strategies to achieve health equity.Read More »

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California Shares Insights on Preparing for Reaccreditation

July 17, 2018|2:34 p.m.| Performance Improvement, Research, and Evaluation

National public health accreditation enables health departments to provide high-quality public health services to the community. According to the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), accredited health departments play an important role in promoting population health with services that reach over 214 million individuals all across the nation. The accreditation process helps health departments identify strengths and weaknesses and undertake performance management and quality improvement (QI) initiatives. It also provides a framework for health departments to improve external relationships with their governing entities and other stakeholders and their communities. Read More »

State Approaches to Community Health Worker Certification

July 12, 2018|4:57 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

A community health worker (CHW) is defined as “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.” CHWs typically share the lived experience of members of their communities. With a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of CHWs, policymakers continue to explore ways to leverage the role of CHWs for improving health and wellbeing in the states and other jurisdictions. Some of these policy decisions focus on issues of reimbursement and funding for CHWs, as well as the scope of practice for CHWs. Another key policy issue for CHWs that continues to evolve is certification. Certification programs are often used to standardize the education and training requirements for a profession. However, such programs may also present a barrier if the certification requirements are too costly, time-consuming, or onerous for those seeking to join the profession. Below is a brief summary of how two states, Arizona and Maryland, addressed CHW certification during this past legislative session. Read More »

State Public Health Strategies for Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences

July 12, 2018|3:43 p.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events during childhood where continual exposure to stressors in the absence of nurturing relationships, known as toxic stress, can damage a child’s developing brain. For this reason, ACEs are a major risk factor for poor early brain development. ACEs not only contribute to suboptimal brain development in children, but they also have lasting effects on overall health and are linked to causes of morbidity and mortality in adults. Read More »

Tips for Using Public Health Accreditation to Orient New Health Department Leaders

July 12, 2018|12:48 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As of September 2016, the length of time state health officials remained in their positions ranged from two months to nearly 15 years, with an average tenure of 2.7 years. Leadership transitions can be attributed to many factors, but the visibility and political demands associated with the job top the list. Incoming health officials must be familiar with the health department’s internal operations, priorities, partners, stakeholders, and issues impacting the agency early on in their appointments. Read More »

University of Washington’s PEARLS Model Reduces Depression Among Older Adults

July 05, 2018|4:01 p.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

Depression is the most common mental health problem affecting older adults and the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) developed and implemented one of the most effective evidence-based programs for older adult depression. The Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives for Seniors (PEARLS) is a home- and community-based program that has been shown to reduce depression symptoms by over 50 percent when delivered by trained professionals over the course of six to eight one-hour sessions. Currently, over 50 agencies offer PEARLS across 18 states and HPRC provides ongoing training and technical support as part of a network of 26 funded CDC academic research centers. ASTHO spoke with HPRC’s research scientist, Lesley Steinman, and the center’s principal investigator, Mark Snowden, to learn more about PEARLS and how the program is being used to confront the stigma associated with depression and mental health. Read More »

A Look at Access to Health Services and the Intersection of Immigration Status with Medicaid and Insurance Eligibility

July 05, 2018|2:39 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Noncitizens in the United States make up about seven percent of the total U.S. population and are more likely to be low-income and uninsured than citizens. Census data estimates that 71 percent of undocumented adult noncitizens do not have health insurance. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and select public health programs serve immigrants regardless of their immigration status. Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for lower-income Americans, limits eligibility for immigrants to those qualified immigrants with refugee status or those who are veterans and those who have been lawfully present in the United States for five years. States can choose whether to provide coverage to legally present immigrants before their five-year waiting period expires. Read More »

California Department of Public Health Joins the Fight Against Devastating Wildfires

July 05, 2018|12:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last year’s wildfires in California caused historic levels of damage and destruction. Fires erupted as far north as the Klamath National Forest along the California-Oregon border and as far south as San Diego. Some blazes engulfed areas surrounding major cities including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and Ventura, burning through mountainsides and neighborhoods. More than 9,000 wildfires roared through California, burning 1.2 million acres of land—an area the size of Delaware—destroying more than 10,800 structures, and causing at least 46 deaths. The Thomas Fire, first reported on December 4, 2017, scorched nearly 300,000 acres across southern California, making it the largest fire ever recorded in California history. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Greg Lakin

June 28, 2018|3:24 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Greg Lakin, DO, JD, is chief medical officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. In this role, Lakin participates in ASTHO matters on the agency's behalf. Lakin has spent his career working in the field of medicine as a family practitioner, as well as in emergency medicine, skilled nursing, and long-term care. Previously, Lakin was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. He received a law degree from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, followed by a medical degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Read More »

New CMS Medicaid-CHIP Scorecard Creates a Pivotal Moment for Public Health Partnership

June 21, 2018|1:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On June 4, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new scorecard that may serve as a new opportunity for state/territorial health agency (S/THA) leadership to collaborate with Medicaid agencies, especially at this early phase of development. The new scorecard combines quality metrics and collectively measures the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and state Medicaid programs. CMS intends for the scorecard to be a tool for states to learn from high-achieving peers and contribute to the development of best practices; however, a great deal of uncertainty remains around the scorecard’s use and general reliability. S/THA leadership may consider this as an opportunity to fulfill the role of chief health strategists and partner with their sister Medicaid agencies to jointly improve population health and quality measures, as well as to engage in broader joint strategic planning and priority setting. Read More »

Cara Christ: Keeping Arizona Prepared

June 21, 2018|9:23 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This year, when CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response released its annual 2018 National Snapshot, Arizona received high marks for public health preparedness, including top scores for emergency operations coordination and public health laboratory testing. ASTHO spoke with Cara Christ, MD, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), about the department’s preparedness priorities, last year’s opioid and wildfire response, as well as collaborations with local health departments to help address these issues and improve preparedness around the state. Read More »

New York State Department of Health Shares QI Approach for Solving Childcare Inspection Problem

June 20, 2018|8:25 a.m.| ASTHO’s Performance Improvement, Research, and Evaluation Team

A culture of continuous quality improvement (QI) is considered the gold standard that many health departments seek to achieve. By improving overall performance and quality, health departments can become more effective and efficient, cut costs, and get better results for the communities they serve. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is well on its way to creating such a culture. Half of the department’s employees—nearly 2,250 individuals—have received QI training and the other half plan to do so within the next year. While the agency utilizes several QI approaches and tools, including Plan-Do-Study-Act and Lean, there are two tools they use consistently: fishbone diagrams and the five whys method. Read More »

2018 ASTHO Annual Meeting: A Look Ahead

June 14, 2018|10:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Registration opened last week for ASTHO’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The meeting, happening Sept. 26-27 in Alexandria, VA, convenes over 300 public health leaders to discuss emerging trends in state and territorial public health, with this year’s theme focusing on building healthy and resilient communities. With the conference just a few months away, Amber Williams, ASTHO’s chief of leadership, governance, and state and territorial engagement, took a moment to answer a few questions about what to expect from this year’s meeting. Read More »

State Policy Approaches to Improve Drug Overdose Death Data

June 14, 2018|10:05 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Interventions for the opioid epidemic, such as deploying naloxone kits, promoting safer prescribing, increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, coordinating public awareness campaigns, and implementing harm reduction approaches, depend on timely, high-quality, comprehensive data. This data is necessary to determine where to target these interventions and to whom, how and when they should be delivered, and what specific environments, systems, behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes they should address. The data required for these interventions often includes information that is collected for death certificates and results from the investigations of drug overdose deaths by medical examiners and coroners. Read More »

ASTHO Attends 2018 National Association for Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials Meeting

June 13, 2018|10:08 a.m.| Health Security

On May 9-10, members of ASTHO’s environmental health, research and evaluation, and state health policy teams attended a meeting hosted by the National Association for Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials (NAVCO) in Fort Collins, CO. This year’s conference was NAVCO’s first in-person gathering in over a decade. As one of ASTHO’s affiliate partners, NAVCO develops and maintains close working relationships with state, territorial, federal, and other governmental agencies engaged in the field of public health vector control, with a focus on vectorborne diseases. Read More »

Medicaid Expansion: An Opportunity to Address the Social Determinants of Health

June 07, 2018|10:34 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On May 30, the Virginia Senate by a vote of 23-17 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 67-31 approved the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. With Gov. Ralph Northam expected to approve the legislation, the commonwealth is poised to become the 33rd state to expand its Medicaid program to cover an estimated additional 400,000 low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is an annual income of no more than $16,753 for a one-person household. The bill authorized the expansion of Medicaid and included provisions requiring the state to submit a waiver to CMS establishing work requirements and cost-sharing requirements for the state’s Medicaid expansion population. If approved by CMS and implemented, Virginia will become the fifth state with work requirements in its Medicaid expansion program, joining Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire. Read More »

Mapping Out Public Health Successes and Challenges With Esri’s Este Geraghty

June 07, 2018|9:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As a keynote speaker at ASTHO’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit, Estella (Este) Geraghty, MD, chief medical officer and health solutions director at Esri, discussed how geospatial technologies are supporting planning and response efforts, as well as how public health leaders can use this work to address current issues such as the opioid epidemic, natural disasters, and vector-borne disease. Read More »

Rich Hamburg’s Alliance with Safe States Strengthens Injury and Violence Prevention

May 31, 2018|2:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rich Hamburg is executive director of Safe States Alliance. Prior to this, he served as executive vice president and COO of Trust for America’s Health. Hamburg has more than 30 years of experience as a leading health policy advocate. With National Safety Month around the corner in June, ASTHO sat down with Hamburg to discuss his new role, Safe States’ reinvigorated mission to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention, and opportunities for public health leaders to raise awareness around these important issues. Read More »

World No Tobacco Day: State Policy Approaches

May 31, 2018|12:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With over two million annual deaths from tobacco-related cardiovascular disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reminding us during World No Tobacco Day on May 31 that tobacco breaks hearts. Here in the United States, even with promising strides to reduce tobacco use, tobacco-related cardiovascular diseases still claim over 30,000 lives each year. These deaths, however, can be avoided by preventing initiation of tobacco use among minors and young adults and promoting tobacco cessation efforts. Read More »

The Intersection of Tobacco and Heart Disease: State and Territorial Opportunities for World No Tobacco Day

May 30, 2018|1:16 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Forum

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners recognize World No Tobacco Day on May 31 to raise awareness about the risks associated with tobacco use. On this day, partners are encouraged to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and promote focused campaigns. This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on tobacco and heart disease, two public health issues on which ASTHO has focused and provided ongoing support to state and territorial public health departments. Read More »

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