Day Two: 2018 ASTHO Annual Meeting Recap

September 27, 2018|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Thurs, Sept. 27 – ASTHO Annual Meeting

Remarks from the CDC Principal Deputy Director Presenter Anne SchuchatASTHO CEO Michael Fraser opened the second day of ASTHO’s annual meeting by congratulating and officially introducing ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) and ASTHO President-Elect Nate Smith (SHO-AR). Read the full announcement here. ASTHO Immediate Past-President John Wiesman (SHO-WA), ASTHO Past President Jay Butler (SHO-AK), and Mary Currier (SHO-MS) then presented the Ed Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award to Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director. Additionally, Schuchat provided welcoming remarks and reflected on her career in public health and spoke about CDC’s current direction and future priorities.

Community Resilience Improvements Presenters Wendy Ellis and Mary WilliardCommunity Resilience Improvements – Karen Smith (SHO-CA) moderated this session, which focused on practical advice and lessons learned for working with community-based partners to build infrastructure and support to promote resilience in vulnerable communities. Wendy Ellis, project director of Building Community Resiliency at George Washington University, discussed adverse childhood experiences and building community resiliency using a tree analogy: “That’s one way to talk about community resiliency. How healthy is the tree—how healthy is the community we plant our children in?” Ellis also took a broader view, covering larger societal factors that contribute to economic and health disparities. Mary Willard spoke about the Alaska Dental Therapy Program, which she called a “local solution to a local problem—no longer were people in Alaskan Native communities willing to tolerate a lack of dentists. Our program exists to address those needs.”

Developing a Strong and Resilient Public Health Workforce Presenter Karen McKeownDeveloping a Strong and Resilient Public Health Workforce – Paul Halverson (alumni-AR), founding dean and professor of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, presented a SHO case study highlighting the key traits of successful public health leaders and the importance of a strong public health workforce. Karen McKeown (SHO-WI) shared experiences using innovative approaches to workforce development in a trauma-informed health department. “When we encourage joy and wellness, we move closer to a strong and resilient workplace,” said McKeown.

Creating Healthier Environments Through Policy Presenter Mark DurandCreating Healthier Environments Through Policy – Esther Muna (THO-CNMI) described efforts used in the Pacific Islands to improve health and well-being following a 2010 declaration of an epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Mark Durand from the Pacific Island Health Officers' Association discussed approaches to building healthy island communities and fighting against NCDs in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. “Obesity, which is driving the epidemic, is still not under control,” Durand said. “But some of the other drivers, including smoking and alcohol prevalence, are showing improvement. There is cause for encouragement!”

Telling the Public Health Story Presenter Soledad O'BrienTelling the Public Health Story – Brian Castrucci, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, introduced this session, which focused on ways public health leaders can better communicate their life-saving work to potential partners, business leaders, and decisionmakers. Award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group, shared insights from her career as a broadcast and investigative journalist, highlighting ways that storytelling can be used to influence power and motivate change. “What’s your public health story?” O’Brien asked attendees. “That’s the dilemma for public health: how do we make sure the stories we tell are, first and foremost, great stories?”

Keynote: Economy and Health Presenter Vice Admiral Jerome AdamsKeynote: Economy and Health – Nirav Shah (SHO-IL) introduced U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams (alumnus-IL), who described actions state and territorial health officials can take to build infrastructure to support economic and health improvements. “Health doesn’t happen at a federal level,” said Adams. “Health doesn’t happen on a state level. Health happens in communities. We have to look for ways to engage local partners to improve health.” Adams shared the stage with Catherine Baase, chairperson of the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc., who spoke about how current macroeconomic principles and trends impact public health.

Remarks from the President's Challenge Presenter Nicole Alexander-ScottRemarks from the President's Challenge – The afternoon wrapped up with remarks on the 2019 ASTHO President’s Challenge: Building Healthy and Resilient Communities, which is aligned with NACCHO and the U.S. Surgeon General’s focus on community health and economic prosperity. “We want to meet each of you, as health officials, where you are, in your state and community—that’s the vision and strategy of this multi-year challenge,” said ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI). Alexander-Scott then turned it over to Lori Freeman, CEO of NACCHO, who emphasized the important work of local health departments. “At NACCHO, we feel uniquely challenged and well-positioned to support this initiative,” Freeman said. “We all live better because of the work of local health departments.” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams left attendees with a few key takeaways, emphasizing (1) better health through better partnerships, (2) health in all policies, and (3) the importance of partnering with local and federal agencies to help achieve their goals.