Public Health Newsletter
Spring 2013 | Volume 2
The Bridge is a public health newsletter written and produced by Hofstra University students and faculty devoted to bridging the gaps in our health care system and improving the health of our communities.
Hofstra Hosts First National Public Health Week Event Series Nuzhat Quaderi, M.S. in Community Health ’14
o promote health and wellness, and to get people talking about critical issues in public health throughout the Hofstra community and across Long Island, the graduate student organization Society of Public Health Advocates (SOPHA), together with the School of Health Sciences and Human Services, successfully implemented Hofstra University’s first series of events for National Public Health Week. The event series, held from April 3-5, reflected the American Public Health Association 2013 theme “Public Health Is ROI (Return on Investment): Save Lives, Save Money” and included panel events, film viewings, and a student-run public health campaign.
On Wednesday, April 3, we held the panel session “Mental Health Policy and Practice Issues in the Wake of Sandy Hook: An Invitation to the Conversation.” Speakers included Andrew Malekoff (executive director/CEO, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center), Holly Seirup (associate professor of counseling and higher education administration, Hofstra University), Janet Susin (president, National Alliance on Mental Illness), Joseph Volpe (school psychologist, Farmingdale Public Schools), and Angela Zimmerman (coordinator, Family Support Long Island Initiative). The event attracted a large audience of more than 120 individuals and engaged attendees in discussions focused on a movement for positive policy changes and advocacy in regards to mental health in our schools and communities. That evening, we hosted “Unnatural Causes: Film Viewing and Discussion.” This event featured the acclaimed documentary series Unnatural Causes that focuses on the relationship of socio-economic and racial inequities to health outcomes. The film viewing was introduced by Johanna Andrews, M.P.H. ’14 and was followed by a discussion panel led by Ronald Sanchez, M.P.H. ’14, Sofia Noel, M.P.H. ’14, Amanda Dugan, M.P.H. ’14 and Brittany Davis, M.P.H. ’14. An engaged audience of more than 30 individuals participated in a lively conversation about the importance of the social determinants of health. On Thursday, April 4, we held the panel session “Immunization: Why Is Public Health’s Greatest Achievement Also Our Greatest Challenge?” The immunization event attracted a diverse audience of community members, faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students. Speakers, including Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein (commissioner of health, Nassau County), Dr. Shaanan Meyerstein (third year pediatric resident, North Shore-LIJ and current Hofstra M.P.H. student) and Dr. Sunil Sood (director of pediatrics, Southside Hospital), highlighted the challenges and benefits of immunizations while emphasizing the importance of vaccinations to a packed room of more than 100 individuals. The morning of Friday, April 5, we held the panel session “Are We Ready for the Next Big One? Lessons From Hurricane Sandy.” Speakers included Ann DeSimone (director of public health emergency preparedness, Nassau County Department of Health), Diana O’Neill (executive director, Long Island Volunteer Center), Michael Reilly (director, Division of Planning and Response, National Center for Disaster Preparedness), Kathy Rosenthal (vice president, family services and Long Island operations, FEGS), and Kenneth Spaeth (director, Occupational & Environmental Health Center, NSLIJ). This event gathered 40 continued on page 7
Inside From the Director .......................................... Page 2 Hofstra’s Heart Health Week.......................... Page 3 Let’s Talk About Mental Illness....................... Page 4 Gun Control: A Public Health Crisis............... Page 4 Public Health Response to Hurricane Sandy............................................. Page 5 NSLIJ and 9/11 First Responders................... Page 5 Seizing the Opportunity for Public Health Change in the Suburbs....................... Page 6 Meet the Public Health Association of New York City............................................. Page 7 Changing the Approach to Healthcare: Health Leads.........................Back cover For More Information...............................Back cover 1
From the Director the Office of Student Leadership and Activities, to plan and implement Hofstra’s First National Public Health Week (NPHW) Event Series, which took place April 3-5, 2013, across campus and in the community.
Corinne Kyriacou Message from the Director of the M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health Programs, Corinne Kyriacou, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences and Human Services
hat an exciting and busy time it has been for the M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health programs at Hofstra! Since our last issue of The Bridge – published prior to many of the defining public health moments of the last six months, including Superstorm Sandy, the Presidential Elections of 2013, and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT – the graduate public health programs held two webinars; sponsored two professional development events; established the student Society of Public Health Advocates; participated in the University’s first Heart Health Week; and spearheaded a significant event series for National Public Health Week. Faculty and students in these two programs exude a level of energy and commitment to improving population health that indefatigable. Looking for a way to organize their individual efforts, the M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health students established the Society of Public Health Advocates (SOPHA) in January 2013. SOPHA’s mission is “To encourage environmental awareness, disease prevention, and health promotion through advocacy both at Hofstra and in the surrounding communities … and to bring awareness to the social determinants of health to minimize health disparities through community outreach and engagement.” Their first major undertaking, which coincided with their creation as an organization, was working together with faculty and administrators from the School of Health Sciences and Human Services, the Counseling and Mental Health Professions Department, Event Management, University Relations and
Starting in 1995, then-President Clinton declared the first week in April National Public Health Week as a time to recognize public health contributions and highlight public health challenges. This year’s theme was Public Health Is ROI (Return on Investment): Save Lives, Save Money. The theme, and Hofstra’s sessions, focused on the power of prevention and the value of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease and curbing health care spending. As you will read about more in this issue, the NPHW Event Series included three academic panels, two film screenings, a Zumba class and a comprehensive, campus-wide student-led public health campaign. Underscoring the theme that public health is ROI, the sessions were truly each a call to action. The Mental Health Policy and Practice Issues in the Wake of Sandy Hook session brought together practitioners who collectively and eloquently outlined the dangers of limiting access to mental health services and the importance of raising awareness and building partnerships among communities, organizations, providers and the government to ensure that tragedies like the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happen again. The session Are We Ready for the Next Big One?: Lessons From Hurricane Sandy brought together physicians, researchers and community health professionals to discuss ways we can prevent or minimize some of the lingering public health and health system impacts we experienced here on Long Island from this unprecedented superstorm. Three public health physicians – including the health commissioner for Nassau County – presented at the session Immunizations: Why Is Public Health’s Greatest Achievement Also Our Greatest Challenge? They addressed challenges they face protecting individuals and communities with this critical public health tool as a result of misinformation, fear and scarce resources. Eerily, less than a week after this session, the New York City Department of Health issued an alert about a measles outbreak in Brooklyn, underscoring how vulnerable we all are if immunization schedules are ignored.
We screened two award-winning documentaries from PBS, Unnatural Causes, which delves deep into the root causes of health disparities, and Soul Food Junkies, which explores ways to integrate rich traditions with good nutrition. Both films generated intense discussion about ways to address ongoing health challenges. Through the three-day NPHW event series, graduate and undergraduate students engaged their peers in conversations about the importance of healthy lifestyles – conducting blood pressure screenings; simulating vision impairment due to high blood-alcohol levels; providing a nutrition workshop; and distributing condoms and health education materials. To stimulate thinking and awareness, SOPHA also brought a Nassau County Police Anti-Drunk Driving Demo Car to campus; created an exhibit of empty shoes to drive home the dangers of secondhand smoke; and, using data from the CDC, MADD and other entities, the students posted signs and wrote messages in chalk about the return on investment generated by various public health initiatives. The campaign was far-reaching and powerful. In addition, over the past six months, the M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health programs organized two other professional development events (screening of Fixing the Future in October 2012 and a presentation by Dr. George Thibault of the Macy Foundation, Aligning Public Health and Medical Education); conducted two free webinars (The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Public Health Considerations with M.P.H. faculty member Dr. Ken Spaeth in January 2013; and After the Towers Fell: The Long-Term Public Health Impact and Lessons of 9/11, with M.P.H. faculty member Dr. Jacqueline Moline in February 2013 – both of these are archived on our website hofstra.edu/ publichealth); held three journal club meetings (led by faculty members Dr. Martine Hackett in November 2012, Dr. Corinne Kyriacou in March 2013 and Dr. Martin Lesser in April 2013); and continued to engage students in ongoing research and community health promotion projects. I encourage you to spend some time reading through this issue of The Bridge and learning more about our vibrant and passionate community of faculty and student scholar-advocates.
Hofstra’s Heart Health Week
id you know that Americans die younger and have higher rates of many types of diseases and injuries than people in other high-income countries? Dr. Steven Woolf states, “Even those who are insured and college educated and have high incomes seem to be in worse health than people in other nations.” Americans are more likely to take part in certain unhealthy behaviors such as eating high-fat, high-caloric diets and not exercising, which leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other harmful adverse health effects. Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president of population health, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, strongly believes that prevention should trump treatment. With greater emphasis on preventing illnesses and injury and less emphasis on treatment, we will combat health problems and its expenses together. To reduce the risk of one acquiring coronary heart disease, one must understand the major risk factors associated with this disease and alter their lifestyles accordingly. Heart Health Week is celebrated as a time for us to think about looking after our hearts so that we can enjoy a happier, healthier life. Many of us know things to avoid for a healthy heart such as saturated fat and smoking but what are the things we can include? We should always eat nuts, oats, fruits and vegetables, and soy foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing red meat with soy foods offered a significant improvement in key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar control. Our hearts also crave physical activity. Those who perform 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week are half as likely to develop heart disease as those who are not
by Amy J. Singh, M.P.H. ‘14
physically active. We should also maintain happy relationships as close relationships allow for less risk of developing heart disease. Relationships based on mutual respect, trust and love are good for our hearts as well as our whole being. In efforts to promote awareness of a healthy lifestyle, public health students partnered with community health students at Hofstra University to deliver helpful tips to students, faculty and members of the community. Through a series of events conducted from February 20 through 26, Hofstra’s Heart Health Week was sponsored with the help of Hofstra’s Labor Studies Program, School of Education, School of Health Sciences and Human Services, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Health and Wellness Center, Office of the Provost and the Office of Student Leadership and Activities. At the first event, students from various health disciplines provided free health screenings to students, faculty and guests of Hofstra University with a Wellness Expo in the Mack Student Center on February 20. With the help of other health care professionals, we’ve found that many of the participants who were tested did not routinely visit their physician. For that reason, they were very concerned about their health. After acquiring a brief history of our participants’ medical problems, we provided educational advice of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, including chest pain or discomfort, discomfort in areas of the upper body or abdomen, shortness of breath, light-headedness, nausea and cold sweat. With our experience of promoting public awareness of these risk factors for CHD, we have recognized that college students tend to be most vulnerable to stress. It is important to recognize the four primary sources of stress: the environment, psychological changes, your thoughts and social stressors. By recognizing burdens of noise, illness, sleep patterns, nutrition, negative self-talk, financial problems, work demands and use of stimulants, stress can be avoided. Screening for hypertension was done through blood pressure checks, and
“Sudden cardiac arrest kills more than breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. We can change this! ...” screening for an estimate of the person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease was performed through a high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol test. We noted patients with elevated levels of low-density cholesterol as it indicates a risk for heart disease. As a complete cholesterol test or lipid panel was performed, we took into account the participant’s age, medical conditions, diet, weight and physical activity as these are the common risk factors for CHD. Patients with a rather low HDL level were further questioned to whether or not they smoke and or/ exercise. Further testing with exercise modalities was performed by Dr. Katie Sell, director of the Exercise Science program at Hofstra. The next main event, a Health Forum held on February 21 at Hofstra’s Mack Student Center, was conducted by health experts Dr. Bruce Goldner, Tim Kiedrowski and James Pratt. The message delivered through this forum was that “Sudden cardiac arrest kills more than breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. We can change this!” A cardiology professor at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Dr. Bruce Goldner spoke of his experience with patients suffering with cardiovascular ailments, and he emphasized barriers of those suffering with coronary heart disease. A young cardiac arrest survivor and heart health activist of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association of Northeast Ohio, Tim Kiedrowski spoke of his personal life experiences and his efforts to implement awareness nationwide. Mr. Kiedrowski has not only spread the word across hospitals and the health care industry but has also donated automated external defibrillators to high schools. The last speaker, James Pratt, a representative from NY Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, provided healthful tips to keep our environments safe and less hazardous. This allows for healthier workers and workplaces.
Let’s Talk About Mental Illness
he rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 left our nation reeling. This was the 30th mass killing in the United States since Columbine in 1999, not including the most recent attack at the Boston marathon. As a nation we have tried to make sense of all these tragedies, and as we do we hear views such as, “We need stronger gun laws,” and “Let’s arm the teachers with automatic weapons.” Unfortunately, there is no simple solution. Schools and other public venues would need to be turned into a fortress to keep out armed killers. So as schools appropriately address the emotional needs of the community and the safety concerns of their buildings, we must remember the fortunate truth that events such as this are rare. Over the years as the profiles of these mass killers have been examined, they often are found to have a history of mental illness. However, to assume that their violent behavior could have been identified in advance is ill-advised. For every mass killer who had a history of mental illness there are hundreds of others with similar profiles that have never become violent. The way in which we identify, approach and treat mental health disorders
by Alicia Colangelo, M.P.H. ’14
needs to change, but it needs to change for more reasons than the prevention of school shootings — this is just the outcome that makes news headlines. Untreated mental health disorders affect schools across the nation on a daily basis, resulting in low academic achievement, disruptive behavior in the classroom, self-destructive and/or aggressive behavior, poor graduation rates and expensive special education services. If schools are able to better address the needs of student mental health issues, it is possible they could prevent future violent acts, but it is more likely that these students will improve their academic performance, reduce disruptive behavior and save money in special education services. Most children who have a mental health disorder are served within the general education system and do not receive any special services. Our schools’ behavioral approach to misbehaving disregards mental health disorders; for example, a student who is distracted in class may be viewed as avoiding school work, when in actuality this student is distracted because of untreated depression. When the mental health disorder is not treated effectively, it results in poor educational outcomes. Educators and families
Gun Control: A Public Health Crisis
n the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the nation has refocused its attention on gun control and gun regulation. This was not the largest shooting in our nation’s history, but never before have so many victims been so young. We must view gun violence as a serious threat to public health if we want to reduce the number of deaths associated with guns. Each year 31,000 Americans die at gunpoint; that number far exceeds the number of babies who die each year in the first year of life and the number of people who die each year from AIDS or illegal drug use. There is a lot we can do as a nation to lower this number. Compared to other countries we have the most guns, the weakest gun laws, and many more homicides. This tragic shooting has opened up a window of opportunity for us to work together to change gun laws, social norms associated with gun violence, and public health education on guns in the home. The White House has put together a panel to curtail gun violence. Having weak gun laws and loop holes within those laws need to be addressed, however we really need to change
social norms about guns as well as change the laws. We need to emphasize that there is a lot more we can do than just change laws. Our current laws are not the sole blame for such awful acts of gun violence; we must also look at exposure to violence via media portals and violent video games. Violent behavior is a learned behavior; we must take approaches to addressing where the violence is being learned, as well as enhancing gun laws and regulations. The Constitution’s Second Amendment protects our right to gun ownership. In many post-Sandy Hook discussions we heard a quote from the head of the National Rifle Association stating, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In the month following the Sandy Hook shooting the FBI reported a spike in the purchase of guns. We are not a nation with more crime or more violence and yet people are feeling the need to own their own gun. Public health education is critical here because many don’t know that a gun in the
of individuals with mental illness should have the ability to identify mental health issues and intervene at an early age. Schools do not and should not have to address this issue alone. Schools should become part of a network of services with local support from community services and agencies to provide the care and support the student needs to become successful. Since the shooting of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, President Barak Obama has called for a national dialogue on mental health. Many parents of children with mental and emotional disorders have voiced their concerns about the decreased and limited mental health resources, and the president is now responding. He promises better access to behavioral health services in schools, and his plan would include training for teachers to recognize students who need help and refer them for services and new regulations to define what mental health coverage must be included in insurance plans. Mental health disorders are prevalent in the student population. It is essential that our schools follow effective procedures and guidelines to provide vulnerable students with necessary services.
by Alicia Colangelo, M.P.H. ’14 home is actually more likely to result in your own death than your protection. Having guns in the home can be dangerous to your health. We need to provide education to people about what guns in the home means to their safety and their health. There is no one thing we can do to solve this problem. This is a whole society problem. Everyone needs to ask themselves what they can do to change the social norms on gun violence.
Public Health Response to Hurricane Sandy by Nina Scollo, M.P.H. ’14
n the evening of Monday, October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit Nassau County shores with winds whipping at an average of 80 mph. The meteorological conditions caused this superstorm to severely impact 26 states; in particular coastal communities. Preparations started early in New York when Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency on October 26. At this point dozens of flights were canceled, Long Island Railroad trains suspended, and mandatory evacuations were ordered. Among these evacuations were a major hospital, Long Beach Medical Center, and six nursing facilities that housed hundreds of elderly and disabled individuals. Emergency shelters were set up at multiple locations throughout Nassau County, including a special needs shelter at Nassau Community College. County officials and emergency responders worked tirelessly to ready residents for impact. As the storm hit, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was bustling as the phones rang off the hook with a
very concerned public. The OEM was staffed by hundreds of volunteers and representatives from government and local agencies/organizations who collaborated to communicate a unified response and recovery strategy throughout this emergency. Straight to the top of emergency priority lists went public health concerns. Sandy left thousands of residents without gas and power for days, even weeks, through cold conditions and a Nor’easter. Shelters filled up, and the remaining local hospitals were packed with patients. Many individuals found challenges in accessing necessary and life-sustaining health care, medications, therapies and even personal oxygen tanks. Environmental issues arose as well when several water districts and a sewage plant were compromised. Many residents had extensive damage to their homes resulting in fear of mold and other harmful agents. Debris piled up, and pollution affected air quality. Communication is key in a situation like the one presented by Hurricane Sandy.
It’s essential that important messages and resources get to the public who are without their usual means. Televised news reports, “robo” calls and the Internet are useless for residents without electricity. Proper communications among responding agencies is the only way to effectively take action. All the key players must be involved and work together. The police department, fire marshal, health department, Red Cross, FEMA, LIPA, water districts and many more were all present and working around the clock. The long-term impact Sandy had on our communities taught us many lessons in emergency preparedness and public health. Whether you are a resident preparing your home and family, or a hospital CEO evacuating your facility, thinking ahead and being prepared saves lives. Sandy produced various concerns with costs, safe shelters, medical care, restoring power and rebuilding homes. All are still part of the ongoing efforts to recover from this superstorm.
How Is North Shore-LIJ Caring for Its 9/11 First Responders? by Amy J. Singh, M.P.H. ‘14
fter the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, thousands of civil citizens stepped up to volunteer their support and services in emergency response. North Shore-LIJ officials were proud to unveil the new treatment center on Monday, March 11, 2013, to those who volunteered or worked at Ground Zero following 9/11. This facility has expanded from an office located in Flushing, New York to Rego Park, New York. Presently, the clinic cares for more than 3,000 first responders. North Shore-LIJ President Michael Dowling notes that the 3,650-square-foot Queens WTC Health Program is 50 percent larger than its location in Flushing. He especially looks forward to adding more health care providers and staff to diagnose diseases and monitor ailments accordingly. Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Master of Public Health program faculty member and director of the center, recognized that the first responders are the most vulnerable population suffering from long-lasting health effects. Dr. Moline states, “Sifting through the rubble and remains at Ground Zero wreaked havoc on many responders’ respiratory systems and the
symptoms began manifesting almost immediately. We knew the air was not safe to breathe. We’ve seen health effects from the very onset with people having trouble breathing, people having the ‘World Trade Center cough.’” Dr. Moline has cared for many patients suffering with a persistent “barking cough” and other forms of respiratory ailments after volunteering at the World Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the Queens Trade Center site for weeks. World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence She has also cared for a (QCCE) at Queens College, chair of the Department significant number of patients of Population Health at NSLIJ, and Hofstra M.P.H. with lung disease, asthma, faculty member, examines a first responder. gastroesophageal disease and a variety of cancers. This clinic also addresses mental with services for improvement of their physical, health problems such as post-traumatic stress emotional and mental well-being. Through this disorder and depression. clinic, emergency preparedness is recognized as Queens Borough President Helen Marshall recognizes the health problems that our first responders have faced. With this new treatment center, she is proud to provide these heroes
a vital component of public health to strengthen the health outcomes of our community and keep us healthy. 5
Seizing the Opportunity for Public Health Change in the Suburbs: Looking for ROI and limited access to medications and health care services. However, local health departments and community-based organizations that provide critical health and support services for Long Island’s residents were already strained with a reduced workforce due to budget cuts Martine Hackett and limited funding. Despite their valiant efforts to ameliorate immediate needs, the Written by storm revealed deep gaps in the system Corinne Kyriacou Martine of public health in the suburban setting. Some of the key issues that Hurricane Hackett, Ph.D., Sandy unroofed were problems that existed Special Assistant Professor, Health before the storm but became painfully more Professions, and Corinne Kyriacou, obvious in the aftermath: vulnerabilities in Ph.D., Associate Professor and our health, mental health and social service Director, M.P.H. and M.S. in systems, and in our transportation, housing, Community Health Programs communications and emergency response systems.
overnor Cuomo recently announced plans for $1.7 billion in federal funds that will be used for home repairs, losses to business and flood-prevention programs due to Hurricane Sandy. More than $888 million has been proposed for Nassau and Suffolk County to rebuild, with the goal to learn from this disaster and prevent damages from future storms. Deciding how to spend these funds requires a consideration of where we are likely to get the most return on investment. Interestingly, “ROI: Save Money, Save Lives” was this year’s theme for National Public Health Week (first week in April every year). While few would argue that hardening electrical systems and supplementing sand dunes are logical investments to protect against some of the most devastating consequences of the storm, we must also identify ways to shore up Long Island’s public health infrastructure if we want to see a return on our investment that saves lives and money. For many on Long Island, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was their introduction to public health problems and the public health network of providers. County health employees, nurses, doctors, communitybased organizations, hospital staff and nursing home employees worked tirelessly to address the multitude of immediate public health crises after Sandy, including carbon monoxide poisoning; mold; sewage and sanitation problems; contaminated water; spoiled food; risks associated with bacteria, viruses and infection; oil spills; injury from removing debris; hypothermia;
The populations most affected by system weaknesses were, not surprisingly, people with chronic illnesses and the frail elderly. Evacuations to shelters revealed the isolation of the frail elderly and disabled populations on Long Island. Health workers managing shelters spoke of people being dropped off to avoid the storm with no nearby family or friends able to pick them up and were left with nowhere to go. Living in homes without heat or electricity put the sick and the elderly in danger and filled emergency rooms with those who were suffering with nowhere to turn. Public transportation is a critical component of the public health system, and the gas shortage showed residents how challenging it is to get around without a car on Long Island. The lack of affordable housing for families on Long Island became evident with so many people displaced as a result of the storm. Culturally appropriate and affordable mental health services for everyone from children with developmental disabilities to the elderly is an ongoing public health challenge that has been exacerbated by the lingering effects of the storm. Given that our population is aging (and as one of our nation’s first suburbs, Nassau County has one of the fastest-growing elderly populations) and people are living longer than ever before with chronic illnesses in the community, these challenges will only increase without a concerted effort to build the resiliency of our communities.
“Health care is important to all of us some of the time, but public health is important to all of us all of the time.” Strengthening public health in our aging suburbs must be included on the agenda of necessary investments – beyond disasters – for the day-to-day health of our communities. Let’s identify how existing community-based networks respond to the needs of their most vulnerable clients and better fund their most effective programs. Evidence-based public health education, health promotion and disease prevention programs and awareness campaigns can better prepare communities to respond both to large-scale as well as ongoing crises. We need to get serious about supporting electronic tools that can help patients take more control of managing their disease and help providers better monitor patient outcomes in the community. It’s time to really invest in crisis centers, food banks, blood banks, emergency services, referral services, and other programs with the potential to improve lives and save money, such as Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities that make living independently in the community a safe and feasible option for all. The late former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once said, “Health care is important to all of us some of the time, but public health is important to all of us all of the time.” We can think of very few things with greater ROI for Long Island than investing in public health.
Meet the Public Health Association of New York City (PHANYC) by Anu Anish, M.P.H. ’14
onnection, commitment and advocacy are a few words used to describe the Public Health Association of New York City, coined in the public health world as PHANYC. Established in 1936, PHANYC is considered to be one of the oldest affiliates of the APHA. Since the time of PHANYC’s establishment, it has served to be a catalyst within the field of public health. Their commitment to informing their members and the public about the healthcare system has led them to various initiatives from community education to influencing public policy. PHANYC has approximately 400 members, which include physicians, nurses, educators, students, researchers and healthcare administrators. The wide array of members allows for a multitude of interests. These various talents allow for initiatives within the community, such as testifying before legislative and government bodies; informing law makers; and enlightening the public via media, newsletters and forums. PHANYC not only allows student membership, but also has developed
programs that allow for active student participation. The Annual Student Conference on May 4, 2013 allowed anyone interested in public health to present abstracts from their research and area of interest. Student and new professionals membership provides the opportunity to network and connect with other individuals in your area. PHANYC has been a primary advocate of public health issues and as a member you will be advocating in the NYC community and staying informed on rising issues. Aside from a Student and New Professionals Committee, PHANYC also has a committee for Policy & Legislation. This committee is active in supporting NYC and NYS on various issues, including but not limited to funding for public health programs, access to health insurance, expanding access to vaccinations, women’s health and safe water initiatives. If any of these topics include your area of interest, I encourage you to become an active member of PHANYC.
As students and advocates of public health it is essential for us to commit our time to our community. When establishing ourselves with organizations such as PHANYC and APHA it allows us to attain and expand our knowledge of the public health issues around us. Public health shapes and forms every aspect of our lives from the food we eat to the policies being passed in government. Living in a time where our healthcare is changing daily requires us to invest our time in educating ourselves about it.
Hofstra Hosts First National Public Health Week Event Series (continued) individuals and engaged the audience in a discussion about the short- and long term effects of Hurricane Sandy. The panel also addressed how to tackle vulnerabilities in systems, including health care and emergency response, within the region. Friday afternoon we held the event “Zumba: Ditch the Workout, Join the Party!” This free Zumba session was led by fitness instructor Leah Bank to promote healthy lifestyles and exercise. Free water bottles were given away to all attendees and a Nike Fuel Band was raffled off to promote health and wellness. Friday evening we held the event “Soul Food Junkies: Film Screening, Panel Discussion and Food Tasting.” This film screening was held at the Roosevelt Fire Department headquarters. The film was followed by a short panel discussion, food demonstration and tasting, with the director of the Roosevelt Farmer’s Market, physicians from the NuHealth Family Health Center, and Chef Leisa Dent of LL Dent Restaurant in Carle Place. The event was attended by more than 70 individuals, most of whom were either members of the Roosevelt community or employees at the Roosevelt Middle School. That same evening, graduate students held the networking event “Celebrate Public Health” where they mingled with more than 25 peers and invited professionals to discuss the week’s events. In addition to the panels and events listed above, SOPHA (comprising M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health students) ran an action-packed, three-day campus-wide public health campaign. Hundreds of students visited the Mack Student Center-based campaign table where they were exposed to highly effective health promotion messages and activities, including a Vision Impairment Workshop that offered critical insight into the physical impact of high blood-alcohol levels; having their blood pressure checked; discussing nutritional guidelines and having their BMI calculated; and obtaining health information about sexually-transmitted diseases, distracted driving and sugar-sweetened beverages, among many other issues. Additionally, students visited exhibits that raised awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke (empty shoes) and drunk driving (half police car-half taxi with message – You Choose Your Ride), as well as strategically placed signs and chalk messages that emphasized the return on investment of public health measures. Hofstra’s first National Public Health Week Event Series was a huge success! The goal for the event series was to be able to educate, engage and empower the Hofstra community to make healthier decisions for themselves and for society. The School of Health Sciences and Human Services and SOPHA met this goal by reaching out to the Hofstra community in a lasting and meaningful way. The graduate students that were so instrumental in event planning and implementation garnered valuable experience in rolling out a large-scale health promotion initiative while expanding their professional networks and having a positive impact on their community. After tireless planning, late nights and long hours, the planning committee can truly say the experience was a win-win – indeed, a perfect example of ROI!
Changing the Approach to Healthcare: The Health Leads Perspective by Nuzhat Quaderi, M.S. in Community Health ’14
t is clear that there needs to be a shift in the way healthcare is administered in the United States. It is simply not enough for patients to be prescribed medications by physicians to treat symptoms after the diagnosis of an illness. Rather, an emphasis needs to be placed on primary preventive care and investigations need to be made to find the root causes of disease in each unique individual. It is important to acknowledge that root causes cannot simply be attributed to genetic predispositions. The manifestation of disease and illness can be attributed to the social and physical environment, to economic capacity, to availability of resources and so much more. As we tackle how to approach improving public health we find that health disparities are one of our biggest hurdles. Where and how are these disparities manifested and how do we address health inequity? The United States is in a position where health expenditures surpass those of all developed countries, and yet population health outcomes are substandard at best.
This is a result of a multitude of reasons that are related not only to issues of cost, quality and access but also to issues of social justice and lack of preventive care. The healthcare system in the U.S. has a problem that cannot be fixed overnight, but there are steps we can take to start making a real impact for the populations desperately in need. Health Leads, a non-profit organization located in several cities across the United States, has been one of the first in taking these necessary steps toward improving population health. Health Leads co-founder Rebecca Onie was a Harvard sophomore college student with a vision that would allow for physicians to provide prescriptions to patients for things like food, childcare, education, housing and utilities. Today Health Leads operates a total of 22 desks across six cities reaching thousands of families through trained college volunteers. Among those desks is a new project, Advocates for Community Health, that has been implemented through the collaboration of Project DOCC, Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC), Health
Leads, and Hofstra University’s Center for Civic Engagement. The new resource desk, located at NUMC in Hempstead, NY, currently has a total of 11 Hofstra students volunteering as community health advocates. These advocates have been working to connect families to basic resources that allow for better health outcomes. As a community health advocate at the NUMC desk I have had the privilege to work with multiple families in the Nassau County area. I have seen firsthand how connecting families to basic service providers or helping families meet basic needs drastically improve the lives and health of individuals. Advocates for Community Health is a project that has the capability of empowering a population to help themselves so they can better their health and their lives as well as improve the community and society as a whole. To have the chance to be part of a change of that magnitude is exciting. Here’s to looking forward to a movement in the right direction for change in our healthcare system!
To learn more about Hofstra’s M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health programs and to find out about upcoming events and view archived webinars, please visit: hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/healthscienceshumanservices. You can also email Corinne Kyriacou, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor and director, M.P.H. and M.S. in Community Health programs, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. 45766:6/13