President’s Message September 2020

OPHA President
Alex Jones

Dear Colleagues,

I have no words to describe the year 2020 thus far.  If no one has told you lately, thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication to protecting the public’s health during this uncertain time.  Prior to the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the US and Ohio, our public health system was working behind the scenes to ensure that we’re keeping our communities as safe as possible.  This response has challenged our capacity and highlighted how poorly funded our public health infrastructure is in Ohio.  Yet, our numerous public health officials have responded and continue to respond to this threat.  Thank you to my public health colleagues who are working diligently to keep day to day services available and public health protections in place for our communities and most vulnerable populations.  I’m so very proud to be a part of public health in Ohio and to have the opportunity to lead the Ohio Public Health Association with our executive board and governing council.

As I’m writing this, the Kentucky grand jury just announced the charges that will be brought forth in the murder of Breonna Taylor.  Racism is a public health crisis.  We in public health see the impacts of structural and institutional racism daily.  Whether it’s the fact that our black babies and black mothers die at more than twice the rate as their white counterparts; or the 1980’s crack cocaine epidemic where our black brothers and sisters saw long prison sentences and now in the present day with the predominantly white users we are offering rehab and treatment in lieu of mass incarceration.  Your governing council is in the process of approving a Racism is A Public Health Crisis statement and is committed to the hard work that comes with making this declaration. The first action step will be to have an independent review of all internal policies and procedures.  We must ensure our own house in order to be successful in our external advocacy.  I will be providing updates on this work in the upcoming President’s messages to ensure accountability to our members as we move through this process. 

Thank you again for your continued membership, support and commitment to OPHA.  Now more than ever we must continue our mission to be the inclusive voice of public health in Ohio.

Take care and be well,

Alex Jones

Fall Marks Falls Prevention Awareness

The first week of Fall is a time to focus on falls awareness in Ohio. The Governor issued a proclamation that notes key facts about falls, including that a quarter of Ohioans 65 years old and older fall every year. And those falls account for 55.9% of fatal traumatic brain injuries among that group. The Ohio Department of Aging has also has a 10 Big Steps to Prevent Falls initiative every day of the week with a web-based learning opportunity. Check it out by clicking here

Position Statement on COVID-19 Testing Guidance

Following is an OPHA  position statement necessitated by the recent developments in testing guidance issued by the CDC. The full statement can be downloaded here.

The Ohio Public Health Association is disappointed by the recent changes to the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidance made on 8/24/20.  By stating that, for close contacts of a confirmed case,  “You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one,” the new guidance provides false reassurance, implying that there is no risk unless the contact develops symptoms of COVID-19. 

Continue reading Position Statement on COVID-19 Testing Guidance

Public Policy Institute Recordings Available

The recordings of the OPHA Public Policy Institute are now available for viewing. This series explored the many ways that institutional racism has diminished life and health outcomes for communities of color. Increased infant and maternal mortality rates; escalating incidence of heart disease, diabetes and stroke; proximity to environmental pollutants; low wage employment opportunities; substandard schools; and a disproportionate share of the incarcerated population are just some of the challenges a person of color must contend with while striving to be successful.

The series was presented in partnership with the Region V Public Health Training Center. The Michigan Public Health Training Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. The recordings are for viewing only. Follow the on-demand links to register to receive free CE through the Region V Public Health Training Center.

Webinar #1 explored the topic of Racism as a Public Health issue. The recording can be found here

On-demand registration for CE: https://www.mitrainingcenter.org/courses/certopp1a0620

Webinar #2 explored the health equity efforts of Franklin County Public Health in Ohio. Presenters discussed challenges and lessons learned from the Declaration of Racism as a Public Health Crisis and a Health Equity in All Policies framework. The recording can be found here

On-demand registration for CE: https://www.mitrainingcenter.org/courses/certopp2a0620

OJPH Calls for Papers on Racism as a Public Health Crisis

In response to recent designations of racism as a public health crisis in many cities and counties in Ohio and ongoing efforts to extend this declaration to the State level, the Ohio Journal of Public Health is dedicating the Autumn 2020 issue to this crisis.

For this call, papers can cover a range of issues including, but not limited to, the following:
 Discrimination and health
 Institutional racism and health
 Cultural racism and health
 Intersectional racism and health
 Racism across the life course
 Residential segregation and other neighborhood factors and health
 Social justice
 Environmental justice
 Policy approaches to addressing racism
 Approaches to achieve health equity
 Novel strategies to address racism and resulting health inequities, including multilevel
interventions, solution-based strategies, models of care, novel academic/community
partnerships, and community-based collaborations
 Educational strategies to better teach students about racism, its health impact, and what
we can do as a public health community to combat racism

Read the full Call for Papers here

Submissions are due: August 20, 2020

OPHA Statement on the Death of George Floyd

The recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers sworn to protect and serve is an all too familiar reminder of the inequities and unacceptable indignities that so many people of color continually endure.  While Ohio’s entire public health community is heart-sickened and mourns the loss of Mr. Floyd, we must not be frozen by our collective fears and anxieties, but use his memory as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and redouble efforts to make systemic and lasting change in our communities.

We should be reminded that just several days before this tragic event, the board of health and county commissioners of Ohio’s largest county, Franklin, declared racism as a public health crisis.  It was a foreshadowing of things to come for sure, but also an overdue acknowledgement by the county’s leadership of a festering societal wound.  Mr. Floyd’s death has stripped away the blood-soaked bandage and ignited the anger and frustrations felt across this nation by those who are often victims and by those who refuse to remain silent to these human injustices.     

Now is the time for bold leadership.  We have shown a strong resolve in our fight against COVID-19 and this unwavering commitment must continue as we battle the clear and present danger of racism. The Ohio Public Health Association realizes there is plenty of work to do and asks all its partners to join forces in seeking equality and justice for all Ohioans.  Let us together tear down the oppressive walls of institutional racism and begin building a better community where all have an equitable opportunity to freely breathe. 

Yours in this work,

Robert Jennings
OPHA Executive Board President

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