Category Archives: News

Who and What is OPHA?

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought public health more into the spotlight, including the Ohio Public Health Association (OPHA). Some have confused OPHA for the Ohio Department of Health, which is a state government department. Over the years this has been a common misconception. OPHA is the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and is an independent membership-based non-profit organization. 

Our unique role is to engage with public health leaders and supporters and other organizations in Ohio who work with or support the field of public health. The membership of OPHA comes from many different sectors, including ODH and other local health departments, public health educators, local health department employees and retirees, and public health nurses or professionals working within the field of public health.  

OPHA strives to advocate for policies that reduce health disparities facing Ohio communities and to advance the practice of public health in the state of Ohio. OPHA envisions a healthy Ohio in which all communities are healthy, thriving and have equal access to healthcare and resources they need to achieve their optimal health.

To achieve its mission and vision, OPHA aims to:

  • Strengthen the capacity of Ohio’s public health professionals to address Ohio’s unmet public health needs by;
    • Creating networking and learning experiences where members can share skills and best practices 
    • Providing educational opportunities through conferences, webinars and distribution of materials.
    • Creating and/or building on collaborative relationships by reaching out to organizations, policy makers, and partners
  • Strengthen OPHA, building an effective and vibrant internal structure which effectively supports our external work by;
    • Supporting state and local health departments and other organizations
    • Educating (i.e., sharing critical information on pressing public health issues facing Ohio communities) 
    • Facilitating growth of the Public Health Professional Services
    • Creating communications mechanisms which eliminate the silos between and among OPHA Boards, Sections and Committees
    • Increasing and diversifying our membership base
  • Promote the value of investing in public health infrastructure by;
    • Building a strong public health workforce as key to driving improvements in health outcomes and reducing health care costs.
    • Developing effective tools which communicate the contribution of Public Health at the local level
    • Being the Voice of Public Health in Ohio
    • Promoting networking and communication among professionals and state legislators to help build public health infrastructure.  
  • Advocate for policies that promote health and equity in urban centers and rural areas by;
    • Reducing or eliminating disparities in health and in its determinants, including social determinants.
    • Developing an effective public policy infrastructure which reviews proposed legislation and administrative rules through a health and equity lens.
    • Making it possible for all Ohioans to live the healthiest lives they can.
    • Advocating for policies and public health issues

OPHA has been involved in many public health events, including the current, rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, OPHA is working to consistently provide updated information pertaining to COVID-19. OPHA also is advocating for Ohio residents to participate in the census which will help guide public health policies. 

Part of what makes OPHA such a unique organization are the members that each share their own personal, professional experiences, backgrounds and knowledge to cultivate a stronger public health foundation for the state of Ohio. Members of OPHA come from diverse backgrounds within the discipline of public health, which allows for other professionals to learn best practices and ways in which they can improve upon their own personal practices.    

Most importantly, OPHA is here for you. Our ears and hearts are ready to do what we can to ease the tension of this time. Reach out to us and let us know how you are doing.

The Census and Public Health

The U.S. Census collection every 10 years provides important data on the population of the country, including data on health. This is crucial information for Public Health and Health Care providers, allowing proper decisions on funding, care, and resources to be made for all communities. Fair and accurate data on populations will allow for appropriate health efforts to best serve the people that need it the most. An inaccurate census count may put everyone at risk for a weakened health care system. 

For Public Health specifically, the census gives data on population demographics, social determinants of health, insurance, fertility, disabilities and more. Researchers in the field use this data collection to track diseases, program successes, and barriers to health care. This important information can allow for new programming or funding to help best serve the communities that need it. 

Everyone plays an important role in Census tracking and ensuring the collection of fair and accurate data. Encouraging friends and family to properly complete the census is one step. The 2020 Census is crucial for Public Health since it relies heavily on the data for supporting federal and state health programs. Staying involved in the Census collection in your community and raising awareness will help the voices of Public Health be heard. 

Complete the Census now: my2020census.gov

Source: https://censuscounts.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Census-Health-Care-Factsheet.pdf

Last Day of Fall Highlights Fall Risks

The Ohio State Chiropractic Association‘s (OSCA) Public Health Committee requested and received  Governor DeWine’s Proclamation of September 23, 2019 as Fall Prevention Awareness Day in conjunction with the first day of fall. This marks the 10th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging. Falls and their complications are the 3rd leading cause of death in the elderly.

Continue reading Last Day of Fall Highlights Fall Risks

Health & Equity in All Policies a Focus of OPHA’s Work

Since 2015, OPHA has adopted Health and Equity in All Policies (HEiAP) as an organizational value and formed a HEiAP Committee to address poor health outcomes and social inequities in Ohio. Progress toward introducing legislation for HEiAP in Senate Bill 302 ended with the close of the 132nd General Assembly, but OPHA is currently working to define its next steps.  The progress of the HEiAP Committee over the last four years can be seen here in a summary.  

Continue reading Health & Equity in All Policies a Focus of OPHA’s Work

Vital Statistics Conference Tackles Current Events

The 2019 Vital Statistics Conference held in August included presentations on the new Ohio Compliant Driver’s License, the 2020 Census, and Customer Service. Attendees also heard about records preservation, how Health and Equity in All Policies (HEiAP) impacts the community, and data and prevention efforts on Injury in Ohio.

The Shirley M. Hayslett award was presented to Tina Watkins of Perry County for her years of service in Vital Records. Special thanks go to Tunu Kinebrew of the Cincinnati Department of Health, Conference Chair and outgoing Vital Statistics Section Chair. A warm welcome goes to incoming Section Chair, Donna Merriman of Wayne County Health Department.

Tina Watkins, Registrar, Perry County Health Department, receiving the Shirley Hayslett Award. Also pictured is Tunu Kinebrew, Vital Statistics Conference Chair, and Susan Kinney, Perry County Health Department.
Luke Werhan, Ohio Department of Health, presenting on Injury in Ohio: Data and Prevention Efforts 
Tom Wilson, Ohio BMV Administrator for Field Operations, presenting on the new Ohio Compliant Drivers License.

OPHA Sets Three-Year Strategy

OPHA has released a Strategy Map giving a one-page overview of its plan for the next three years. The overarching goals include both the external work of advocacy and the internal work of capacity building. Specifically:

  1. Advocate for policies that promote health and equity in urban centers and rural areas.
  2. Strengthen the capacity of Ohio’s public health professionals to address Ohio’s unmet public health needs
  3. Promote the value of Investing in public health Infrastructure.
  4. Strengthen OPHA, building an effective and vibrant internal structure which effectively supports our external work

The document also lays out the objectives to meet those goals and some of the metrics. Download it below.

Journal Seeks Proposals for Copy Editing

The Ohio Public Health Association is seeking proposals for copy editing services related to the formatting, copy editing, and publishing of the Ohio Journal of Public Health (OJPH), a peer reviewed professional journal which currently publishes two editions, one in June and one in December, each year.

Download the full RFP here

Call to Action on Gun Violence

Urgent Call to Action!

The Ohio Public Health Association expresses extreme sadness and joins in the national mourning of the senseless loss of life during the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and in our own community of Dayton, Ohio.  We offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and families and our sincere gratitude goes out to those first responders who displayed acts of remarkable selflessness and bravery.     

Continue reading Call to Action on Gun Violence

President’s Message July 2019

It is an honor for me to serve as president of the Ohio Public Health Association.  I enter the position at a time when our organization is steadily moving toward fulfilling its mission of being the Inclusive Voice of Public Health in Ohio.  I sincerely thank our immediate past president, Natalie DiPietro Mager, for her focused leadership in guiding our association through a period of transition and setting us on the right course. It is now my charge to help find new solutions to some of the old, yet persistent, public health challenges. 

I intend to set the following three priorities as we move forward in this journey:   

Improve the Fiscal Health of OPHA – Our organization has done quite well furthering public health through the kindness of donors, the volunteer efforts of committed public health professionals, and through the creative and careful use of our limited resources.  However, if we want to continue to lead on the more significant public issues, we will need to build a fiscal infrastructure capable of sustaining our efforts.    

In this process, I pledge to work with OPHA’s Executive Director, David Maywhoor, to seek out and establish funding partnerships that are mutually beneficial. For example, OPHA currently has a promising funding source — the Public Health Professional Services program.  The PHPS program benefits our partners by providing a pool of qualified public health professionals to fill their employment needs, and OPHA benefits through the administrative fee it charges for the services.  

The PHPS may be one of the best kept secrets in state, and now we have a great opportunity to further promote and expand the program.  Additionally, OPHA could and should establish more organic partnerships to benefit public health, including reaching out to public and private organizations concerned with climate change and the environment. I believe these opportunities are boundless, and we simply need to be more deliberate in our efforts to expand and grow the organization.  

Continue Our Statewide Leadership in Health and Equity in All Policies – Through the work of our Health and Equity in All Policies legislative initiative, OPHA is now seen as the statewide leader in addressing the many social and geographical factors that influence health.  This is a mantle we all can be proud of.  I believe we only have scratched the surface on what can be achieved in this area.   Active engagement and collaboration is key, and we must continue to build a coalition of interested stakeholders prepared to assist in the sustained progress of this initiative.   

During the next year, I would like to see more formal and enthusiastic engagement of the entire OPHA membership through education, communication, and training. This will increase buy-in at all levels, and allow each of us to become more effective public health advocates.      

Elevate the Profile of OPHA – Through the dedicated and active work of the various OPHA Sections and Committees, we are well on our way to becoming a respected and recognized force in the field of public health in Ohio.  By encouraging greater internal coordination and interaction, we can continue to build our reputation as a trusted and expert resource.  I intend to focus on ways to lift the profile of OPHA statewide, so that we always are invited to the table when important public health issues are discussed.   

I look forward to the many opportunities that lie before us.  Together as we implement elements of our strategic plan, and set attainable goals and objectives, we will move ever closer to realizing our vision: A healthy Ohio, where all communities are thriving, and all people have access to the care, information, and resources they need to be healthy.”

I invite each of you to actively engage in these efforts and share your ideas. Please feel free to contact me any time at jennings.robertl@gmail.com

Sincerely,

Robert Jennings
President
Ohio Public Health Association