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

We Need Your Help to Fight COVID-19!

Dear OPHA Members,

We are facing an unprecedented time in the history of our country. Schools, shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment and leisure facilities are shut down. Our jobs, families and places of worship have been disrupted and our way of life is indefinitely stalled. None of us could have imagined just two months ago that our public health system would be stretched to capacity in response to an invisible and deadly threat. Yet here we are.

I want to share ways in which you as an OPHA member can help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization with a diverse membership of public health professionals, we are collectively moving in lock step to protect the health of all Ohioans. Unfortunately, there are critical gaps in our system that must be filled in order to ensure our success.

One way to fill the staffing shortages of Ohio’s public health system is by using the Public Health Professional Services (PHPS) program. The PHPS program, administered by OPHA, is a contract employment service which matches Public Health professionals in Ohio with available part-time, temporary, short-term, and/or seasonal positions in the field of Public Health.

Now more than ever, health departments around the state need temporary or part-time help. Meanwhile, many individuals in the Public Health sector are available to contribute their skills and expertise including retirees, part-time employees, nurses, caregivers, communication professionals, community health workers, students working toward full-time employment, and more.

This is how it works:

OPHA will…
 Recruit and manage a pool of available staffers
 Serve as the liaison between staffers and prospective placement sites
 Facilitate contracts and employment logistics

You have the…
 Skills
 Knowledge
 Life experience
 Organizational familiarity

Let us link you to a local health department in need of assistance. Please let us know what skills and abilities you have that can be matched with a current need. To learn more visit
https://ohiopha.org/phps-staffing or contact Jamie Weaver at ohiopha.phps@gmail.com.

On another important, yet more concerning note, I want to remind our members that while the COVID- 19 is affecting all of us—our health and our way of life—low-income communities, and communities of color undoubtedly will face added risk. We must now stand by our commitment and mobilize to advocate for policies that address health inequities.

In public health, we know that pre-existing social vulnerabilities only increase in a crisis. Age, coupled with a chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, high blood pressure etc., are factors known to make the coronavirus deadlier for those infected. So, when low socioeconomic status is added to the mix, you have real potential for increased loss of life and suffering.

During this uncertain time, we must remember the many communities where residents breathe polluted air that lead to the chronic illnesses that make them more vulnerable to the worst impacts of COVID-19.

As many of us stock our pantries with food and supplies, we must remember the many people who live in communities that lack even a single grocery store to find fresh healthy food and may struggle financially to support their families during this difficult time. And we must remember that these social and environmental injustices were here before, they are exacerbated by COVID-19, and must be addressed within the response to this pandemic and thereafter.

As the “inclusive voice for public health,” this means that we must remember to lift the voices of those who are too often marginalized or forgotten. We must redouble our efforts to proactively advocate for policies that reduce health disparities and empower all people to achieve their optimal health. Let’s begin to think about ways in which we can ensure these populations are not lost in the shadows of our statewide COVID-19 testing efforts.

As one OPHA member so eloquently put it…
“In this crisis we have an obligation to continue to fight for equity and health equity across this State. We may need to readjust, but it is important that we understand how vulnerable populations are cared for and included during this crisis of COVID-19. The handling of such will be a direct manifestation of all our ills: racism, sexism, classism, etc… This crisis will place people who we want to fight for [even] further behind.”

Lastly, investments in Ohio’s public heath infrastructure is critically needed and long overdue. This current crisis will reveal the vulnerabilities of a neglected public health system, but I am confident we will overcome. That said, this also presents an opportunity for OPHA to help champion efforts to increase funding in our system and properly prepare us for the next public health emergency.

In these unprecedented times, please know that your health and well-being is on the minds of the entire OPHA family. Please take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe. I encourage you to consult your local health department, the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites for information on how to take precautions
against the COVID-19 threat.

Sincerely,
Robert Jennings
President
Ohio Public Health Association

Lifting the Voice of Public Health in Ohio: President’s Message

OPHA continues to make significant strides in elevating its profile across the state as the “Inclusive Voice of Public Health in Ohio.” There are any number of reasons for this but most of the credit rightfully goes to you, our dedicated members. Through the active work of the various OPHA sections, committees, volunteers and staff, we are now broadly recognized as a public health leader and as an essential partner to invite to the table when critical public health issues are discussed.

An important aspect of this emerging success is the commitment of OPHA to strengthen the capacity of public health professionals in addressing Ohio’s unmet public health needs. One way we are meeting this strategic goal is through the increasing visibility of our various conferences in Public Health Nursing, Vital Statistics and Combined Public Health. These opportunities to network and share best practices as professionals is invaluable to sustaining an expert and well-trained public health workforce.

Connecting with our partners is also proving an important key to our success. That is why we are excited to provide leadership in the climate resilience and health and equity in all policies statewide coalitions. Additionally, OPHA’s leadership recently approved the development of an overall strategy to improve oral health in Ohio. As dental disease remains one of the most common unmet healthcare needs, an effective strategy will ultimately depend on OPHA’s ability to bring interested stakeholders together to find workable solutions to this difficult and illusive public health problem.

I am truly encouraged by the committed work being done throughout our organization. Whether you are just entering the field of public health, a mid-career professional, a retiree or anything in between, we value the work you do each day to improve the health of all Ohioans and represent our organization in such a positive way.

While OPHA is certainly on a rising trajectory, I believe 2020 will provide even more opportunities for our association to offer statewide leadership and direction. I am also mindful, however, that in order to sustain our momentum it will be through the collective effort of our professional membership.

To that end, I look forward working with each of you as we continue this journey together to be the inclusive voice of public health.

Sincerely,
Robert Jennings
President, OPHA

President’s Message November 2019

Happy Holidays!

As we enter the holiday season and prepare to ring in the new year, I would like to highlight just a few of OPHA’s significant achievements over the past several months.

In October, OPHA partnered with state Representative Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) to convene a meeting of diverse stakeholders throughout Ohio. It was an important opportunity for our association to show continued leadership in the implementation of the HEiAP legislative initiative. The stakeholders invited to the table represented a cross-section of disciplines aligned with core determinants of health including those from transportation, education, housing, environment and state policy. The dialogue and engagement proved fruitful and OPHA is now viewed as an important leader in statewide policy change. Continue our statewide leadership through Health and Equity in All Policies…Check!

More recently, OPHA staff sat down with leadership from the Ohio Department of Health
(including Director Amy Acton) to discuss our association’s strategic priorities. It was important for us to remind ODH that OPHA is the “inclusive voice of public health in Ohio” and that our membership includes a diverse array of public and private sector professionals. ODH was attentive, engaged and receptive to our views on key issues. Both sides agreed to keep the lines of communication open and to work more closely in our mutual efforts to advance the practice of public health in Ohio.

We are also grateful to Franklin County Public Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola for facilitating a special meeting between OPHA leadership and Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Benjamin was in Columbus as a featured speaker during Franklin County Public Health’s Progress of Public Health Conference in October. As the Ohio affiliate of APHA, the meeting provided OPHA with a unique opportunity to discuss common goals and challenges at the national and state levels. Elevate the profile of our association…Check!

OPHA’s Executive Board in August hosted an orientation for Governing Council members. The goal of the orientation was to provide Governing Council with an historical overview of OPHA and how it aligns as an affiliate with APHA, set roles and expectations, solicit buy-in to the organization’s strategic plan, outline their fiduciary responsibilities and provide technical assistance and guidance. The feedback from those who attended the training has been overwhelmingly positive. Actively engage OPHA membership through education,
communication, and training
…Check!

Finally, this is the time of year that we pause to reflect on the things we are most thankful for. I am honestly grateful to be a part of an organization whose members embody the true spirit of selfless service and who continue to give freely of their time and talents to protect and improve the health of everyone.  Here’s wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season and a very Happy New Year.

Sincerely,
Robert Jennings

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