Dental Equity-Focused Coalition Launched

Ohioans for Dental Equity has announced the launch of a coalition made up of dozens of community based and statewide advocacy organizations, including the Ohio Public Health Association. The coalition will work to shine a light on the disparities and inequities related to oral health.

At a press conference announcing the coalition, participants noted that oral health is a gateway to the rest of the body’s health and that it has been overlooked for far too long, disproportionately harming racial minorities, children of low-income families, and people living in rural communities, among other at-risk groups.

Members of the coalition also include the statewide groups such as Ohio Headstart Association, Coalition On Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, Ohio Foodbank Association, Health Partners of Western Ohio and local service providers like Health Partners of Western Ohio (Lima) Shawnee Mental Health (Portsmouth), Washington-Morgan Community Action Program (Marietta) and Clintonville Resource Center (Columbus) as well as leaders in the dental health field.

Celebrate American Heart Month: Join the #OurHearts Movement

February is American Heart Month!

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we work on them with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others, even if you can’t be physically together, to improve your heart health.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Most middle-aged and young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease.

Why Connecting is Good for Your Heart

Feeling connected with others and having positive, close relationships benefit our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight. Having people in our lives who motivate and care for us helps, as do feelings of closeness and companionship.

Follow these heart-healthy lifestyle tips to protect your heart. It will be easier and more succe

ssful if you work on them with others, including by texting or phone calls if needed.

  • Be more physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
  • Track your heart health stats.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go.

Move more

Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active:

  • Ask a colleague to walk “with you” on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both get out for a walk.
  • Get a friend or family member to sign up for the same online exercise class, such as a dance class. Make it a regular date!
  • Grab your kids, put on music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or dance in your living room or yard.

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet has ideas to get and keep you moving.

Aim for a healthy weight

Eat heart-healthy

We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Together, try NHLBI’s free Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Research shows that, compared to a typical American diet, it lowers high blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. Find delicious recipes at NHLBI’s Heart-Healthy Eating web page.

Quit smoking

To help you quit, ask others for support or join an online support group. Research shows that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can help you quit.   All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov.

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider those around you: Breathing other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Many adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Manage stress

Reducing stress helps your heart health. Set goals with a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga, or meditation, or participate in an online stress-management program together. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone else you trust.

Improve sleep

Sleeping 7–8 hours a night helps to improve heart health. De-stressing will help you sleep, as does getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk instead of a late afternoon nap! Family members and friends: remind each other to turn off the screen and stick to a regular bedtime. Instead of looking at your phone or the TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath.

Track Your Heart Health Stats, Together

Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart-healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts: Tracking Your Numbers worksheet.

Visit #OurHearts for inspiration on what others around the country are doing together for their heart health. Then join the #OurHearts movement and let NHLBI know what you’re doing to have a healthy heart. Tag #OurHearts to share how you and your family and friends are being heart healthy.

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