By Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO
NACCHO is pleased to recognize the Kansas City (MO) Health Department as a recipient of the 2016 Local Health Department of the Year Award. This award recognizes and honors outstanding accomplishments of local health departments (LHDs) across the country for their innovation, creativity, and impact on communities.
Kansas City, MO, is a diverse urban community in the heart of the Midwest with a population of 459,787 people. The Kansas City Missouri Health Department (KCMOHD) has protected the population’s health for 150 years and operates with a mission to promote, preserve, and protect the health of Kansas City residents and visitors. KCMOHD employs 200 staff through various programs, some which are active in both Missouri and Kansas. Programs and services strive to prevent illness and injuries, improve health services, enforce public health laws, and support policy development to build a healthier community. Continue reading
This is the second in a series of NACCHO Annual preview posts, which feature interviews with and essays from presenters in advance of NACCHO Annual 2016. In this post, Gary Cox, JD, shares insights from his session, “Targeting Neighborhood Poverty, Education, and Health Burden through Local Public Health Policy and Prevention across Oklahoma County.” Cox brings more than 35 years of public health experience and leadership skills to his role as executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. He is a past president of both NACCHO and the Oklahoma Public Health Association. Below Cox shares his advice for LHDs pursuing health equity and his experience forging partnerships with local entities committed to improving community health.
NACCHO: You open your presentation with the idea that health outcomes are influenced by complex social and physical indicators. How do you address this reality in your health department’s pursuit of a culture of health equity?
Gary Cox: We have a basic philosophy as a local health department that we should analyze data and look at where we have inequities and disparities in our community. We have what we call a wellness score: It is about 22 data points, ranging from educational attainment and graduation rates to crime rates, mortality/morbidity rates, hospital room visits, hospital discharge data, and so on. It comes from a very wide variety of sources gathered together to create a cumulative comparative index, zip code by zip code, of our county.
Jennifer Weitzel, MS, RN
By Tiffany J. Huang, MPH, Program Analyst, Assessment and Planning
NACCHO’s Roots of Health Inequity Web-based course offers a learning opportunity for public health practitioners, partners, and students to explore health inequities. How can local health departments use the course? We interviewed Jennifer Weitzel, MS, RN, a public health nurse at Public Health Madison & Dane County in Wisconsin, to hear about her health department’s experience.
How are you using the Roots of Health Inequity course in your health department?
Our health department hosts student interns from across disciplines and levels, from bachelor’s-level nursing students to doctoral students. Our largest cohorts are usually during the summer. While they are typically recruited to work on a particular project, we also engage them in additional activities that, until recently, I facilitated. For the past two summers, we’ve used the Roots course. Continue reading
By Tiffany Huang, MPH, Program Analyst, Assessment and Planning, NACCHO
“The commodification of people is the biggest issue we face in public health,” stated Kathryn Evans, MPA, a trained community organizer with United Community Services of Johnson County, during the closing general session at NACCHO Annual 2015. Evans spoke compellingly about the roles of power, class oppression, and racism as determinants of health inequities, and along with her fellow panelists, called for public health to act upon them.
Public health has long acknowledged that socioeconomic status is one of the strongest predictors of health outcomes across nearly all diseases and risk factors.1 However, socioeconomic status alone does not adequately capture the meaning of class. Continue reading
Interview by Ian Goldstein, Web and New Media Specialist, NACCHO
On April 12, Freddie Gray, Jr., was arrested by the Baltimore City Police Department. He died on April 19, due to spinal cord injuries. In the aftermath of this death, citizens held a variety of demonstrations; while most were peaceful, the city saw several days of violence and unrest. NACCHO interviewed Baltimore City Health Department Commissioner Leana S. Wen, MD, MSc, FAAEM, about her department’s response to the unrest and about the ways local health departments (LHDs) can address the root causes of health inequity and structural racism. This interview was originally conducted as part of NACCHO’s podcast series. See the notes after the interview for two additional opportunities for engaging in this important conversation.
- NACCHO: As someone who is charged with ensuring the health and safety of the community in Baltimore, could you share with us your perspective on the civil unrest and the role of the city health department during that time?
Dr. Wen: I have to say that in the beginning, I didn’t even know that there was a role for the health department in civil unrest. If you look at our emergency plan for civil unrest, the lead agencies are fire and police–IT even, because they do the 3-1-1 and 9-1-1 call systems. When I was initially asked to go to our emergency operations center as one of the lead agencies, I was surprised because I didn’t know what the role of the health department would be. This was on Monday, right after things began happening. The reason that we got involved in the first place was because one of our health clinics is right across from the CVS that burned down. It’s at North and Penn, right where the “purge” was supposed to happen. We heard about the purge happening and that it was a credible threat. We had to make a decision about whether to close the health center, which actually is a difficult decision because we want to make sure that we serve our community. We have to serve our patients who are most in need but we also have to keep our staff and our patients safe. We were activated immediately to go the emergency operations center (EOC). I was asked to be one of the lead agencies and then things began unfolding. Continue reading