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Vermont public health association

  • 3 Aug 2020 8:58 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE       July 2020

    To Our Vermont Public Health Association Members and Colleagues:

    These are concerning times for the public’s health. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical need for a robust and comprehensive national and international multi sector response. In Vermont, we have been successful to date in containing the virus, due to our data driven response from our state’s leadership, our concerned Vermont citizens, and also our skilled and committed public health workforce.  

    In addition to the major public health crisis due to COVID-19, the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) recognizes the recent events that are in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minnesota. These Black lives lost due to police violence reflect the deep and ongoing “pandemic” of racism that permeates our society and blocks any effort to build equitable societal systems of health and wellness for Black Americans. Nationally, many peaceful protests are highlighting the anger over the traumatic legacy of centuries of systemic racism in our country. We encourage all our members and colleagues to become actively involved in this watershed moment by working as public health professionals to address structural racism and move us forward to a society that is equitable for all. I also refer you to the 2018 American Public Health Association’s statement on Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issues

    These issues illustrate the effects of the imperfect political and social-economic systems that negatively affect the public’s health. Public health professionals need to continue to push for policies that reflect basic social justice tenets such as accessible and affordable quality health care, healthy communities, and they myriad of other issues that, if implemented, will support a healthy population. In addition, the ongoing crisis caused by climate change underlies and negatively affects all population health issues.  

    The COVID-19 pandemic response has severely tested our medical services and public health workforce capacity. But we are resilient and, under our state leadership, will continue our intense efforts to keep the coronavirus contained. However, the pandemic response is highlighting our nation’s limited public health capacity to fully respond to this pandemic and all ongoing public health threats. The American Public Health Association has expressed this concern as a signatory to a June 2020 letter to Congress urging significant and long term investment in public health infrastructure.

    A key way to tackle these major public health issues is to get involved in your Vermont Public Health Association. Our Board has begun the process of assisting members for more active engagement. We also encourage new members who are involved in the broad array of public health related professions to join us. In order to increase certain member services, our Board is presently firming up plans to create a more fully functioning website, organizing member benefits, and creating further programming that serves the professional needs of our members. 

    I strongly urge everyone to either join or become more active in our American Public Health Association (APHA). During this past spring, the APHA has rolled out several webinars on key pressing public health issues. The COVID-19 Conversations are available twice monthly, offered through a partnership between APHA and the National Academy of Medicine. This series features national experts discussing the latest data and research on the corona virus. Additionally, APHA is offering the Advancing Racial Equity series that explores racism as a major root cause of health inequities. The information on all these webinars is at www.apha.org. Nationally, APHA will have its annual meeting on October 24 – 28. This year’s virtual formal will offer an incredible opportunity to access all sessions online that will be accessible well beyond the dates of the meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting is, Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence and presenting research and programming that is so timely with our recent national events of racism and violence.  

    Using the three key elements of our VtPHA Strategic Plan, I’d like to summarize how we at the VtPHA have carried out our work over the past year and our plans for this coming year: 

    Strengthen Public Health Practice:

    • ·         We recognize our partners at the UVM Vermont Student Assembly for Public Health (VSAPH). Many thanks to Madison Shaffer, a VtPHA Board member who is a recent graduate of UVM, for forming this group several years ago. The VSAPH is designed to cultivate a student community for those interested in public health and to create opportunities for students to work in public health projects and become engaged in related issues. The VSAPH is also formally recognized by the APHA.  We want to expand our collaboration with the VSAPH and to consider using this model to create similar groups on other Vermont college campuses.  
    • ·         We continue to strengthen our partnership with the New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA). This fall, we will hold our fourth Health Equity: Team Up Take Action conference in collaboration with the NHPHA and Dartmouth Hitchcock. This year the conference will be held virtually – the planning is just beginning so stay tuned. The goal of this conference is to support public health and community organizations to further instill health equity principles in their programs and services.
    • ·         The VtPHA is organizationally connected to the Vermont Public Health Institute and we have created various plans to increase collaboration over the past years. Presently, under a grant from the Vermont Department of Health and the New England Public Health Training Institute, we are working on public health workforce supports and resiliency.  
    • ·         We have continued our collaboration with the Vermont Climate Health Alliance and their Executive Director, Dan Quinlan. Our recent actions have been minimal due to the pandemic, however, we as an organization have supported the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act that requires Vermont to meet specified gas pollution levels.
    • ·         We held a policy breakfast in Montpelier in December 2019. This served to promote communication with our public health colleagues on legislative and policy issues and provided a forum to support collaboration on key issues. We intend this to continue as an annual event and are working to provide more solid follow up to support our partners through the legislative session.
    • ·         During National Public Health Week (NPHW) (held annually during the first week of April) we prepared issue briefs for outreach on specific topics as designated by APHA. Since NPHW unexpectedly happened during the intense time of the COVID-19 pandemic response, we messaged each issue brief as defined by the Vermont pandemic response. VtPHA received a small grant from APHA to accomplish this work and we owe many thanks to Katie Bocchino, our VtPHA Operations Manager, for the writing and posting of the pieces. Katie also insured the statewide distribution of two letters to the editor describing the role of public health during NPHW.
    • ·         We acted as a community research partner with the UVM Larner College of Medicine (LCOM) for the research project designed to assess state legislators’ knowledge and approaches to teen marijuana use. This coming fall, we will again submit a research proposal to the LCOM. 

    Build a Public Health Movement:

    • ·         We continue to work to improve our infrastructure and organizational capacity, relying on the expertise on our Board and the skills of our Operations Manager, Katie Bocchino. For the coming year, under the leadership of our new Executive Board as lead by President Joyce Gallimore, we will concentrate on increasing programming and member services, recruiting individual and organizational membership, and improving our social media outreach. This summer we are creating a comprehensive communications plan including strategies for a series of webinars, newsletters, and other means of informing and involving our members. 

    Align Organizational Capacity and Infrastructure/Cross Cutting:

    • ·         We are pleased to welcome several new members to our Board this year. These individuals are adding new perspectives, ideas, and skill sets to an already talented crew. At the same time, we extend our deepest gratitude to our past Board members whose input, energy, and wisdom have set the stage for our future growth as an organization.
    • ·         Burt Wilcke, UVM Associate Professor Emeritus, continues as our representative to the APHA New England Region of the American Public Health Association’s Council of Affiliates. Burt is also our Affiliate Representative to the Governing Council of APHA and is always looking for ways in which we can reciprocally benefit from our connection with APHA, through advocacy, membership, and partnerships.
    • ·         Katie Bocchino continues in her role as our part time Operations Manager. Katie’s expert assistance in high level management for our organization has been invaluable in increasing our efficiency and efficacy as a small nonprofit.
    • ·         Over this past year, the membership voted to approve several Bylaws revisions, which created new membership categories and also established the position of President Elect (rather than Vice President).

    This is a time of challenge for us who are concerned about the health of the public and who realize the urgency of supporting social justice for populations. I have been very proud to have served as your President for the past three years and now pass the baton to our new President, Joyce Gallimore, and President Elect, Ken Allen. I look forward to continuing on the Executive Board as Secretary. There is much important work to be done and I know we will have solid leadership from both Joyce and Ken.

    Sincerely,

    Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN

    Immediate Past President, VtPHA

    Vermont Public Health Association

    vtpublichealth@outlook.com

    www.vtpha.org


  • 18 Jun 2020 9:02 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    The Vermont Public Health Association recognizes the recent events that are in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. These Black lives lost due to police violence reflect the deep and ongoing “pandemic” of racism that permeates our society and blocks any effort to build equitable societal systems of health and wellness for Black Americans. Nationally, the many peaceful protests are highlighting the anger over the traumatic legacy of centuries of racism in our country. We encourage all our members and colleagues to become actively involved in this watershed moment by working as public health professionals to address structural racism and move us forward to a society that is equitable for all.

    We strongly encourage all our colleagues to participate in the upcoming webinar on June 9 at 2:00 PM as sponsored by the American Public Health Association entitled Racism: The Ultimate Underlying Condition. This event will examine racism and its historic and present day impact on the health and well being of Black Americans. Registration and more information can be found here

    Please also refer to the American Public Health Association’s statement on Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue.

  • 18 May 2020 9:42 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    May 18, 2020

    The Hon. Phil Scott

    The Hon. James Condos

    The Hon. Mitzi Johnson

    The Hon. Tim Ashe

    Dear Elected Leaders:

    It is the position of the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) that Vermont should implement a universal vote-by-mail program for the 2020 elections. Please find the following statement posted on our homepage (www.vtpha.org) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/VermontPublicHealthAssociation/):

    The Vermont Public Health Association salutes Vermont’s elected leadership for their response to the COVID 19 pandemic. Their actions have helped “flatten the curve” of the virus’ spread and thus have protected Vermonters from this significant disease. However, it is widely recognized by public health experts that there is a real risk of a resurgence of COVID 19 in the next several months or this coming fall. Thus, we must continue proven public health practices, such as physical distancing, to keep the pandemic under control.

    The November 2020 election poses a challenge for policymakers and public health officials alike. Election forecasters predict record turnout, which is good for our democratic process but will create crowded public gatherings that could expose voters and election workers to the COVID 19 virus.

    Therefore, the Vermont Public Health Association recommends that for the upcoming general election, the state creates a robust system enabling key options for voting, including in-person voting, absentee ballots, and a universally available vote by mail system. This will create several options for all voters. The Vermont Public Health Association specifically supports the initiation of a vote by mail option for every registered voter that allows them to vote safely from home.

    This flexibility on voting options for our citizens will prevent Vermonters from having to choose between avoiding exposure to COVID 19 and exercising their right to vote. It adds an additional protection for our citizens who may be older or who live with a chronic health condition. It also supports voters who are less able to travel or unable to take time off of work. A comprehensive vote-by-mail system works to equalize voting opportunities for all Vermonters. 

    VtPHA is a membership organization which facilitates collaboration among people who care about public health and are interested in protecting and promoting the health of Vermont residents. Should you have any questions about our position, please be in touch.

    Sincerely,


    Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN

    President

  • 9 Apr 2020 9:39 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    The Other Crisis: Climate Change

    We are in a crisis, a real live pandemic, and Vermonters have risen to the occasion. We are mobilizing our health care workers and staying home to prevent the spread of infection, and communities are joining together to support our food shelves and those handy with a needle and thread are turning out hundreds of face masks and gowns. Vermont is rallying with energy and industry to get us through this crisis.

    But when the COVID-19 crisis has waned (and it will - due to our determined efforts) we will have to return our focus to The Other Crisis – that of climate change. Even though Vermonters have previously worked hard to address climate change, our greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 13% since 1990. So we must pause and consider, what would our emissions look like if we would mobilize to fight the climate crisis just as we have concentrated on fighting the COVID-19 crisis?  Imagine a full-on effort, with everyone rallied to overcome climate change – just as with this pandemic. Many people don’t think of climate change as a health emergency - but it truly is. The World Health Organization started listing climate change as the #1 threat to human health long before COVID-19 was on the scene.

    So let’s envision the same investment and effort of the all-in COVID-19 response applied to climate change. Let’s imagine a workforce activated on a statewide basis and assigned to climate change reduction strategies and an influx of state and federal funds for supporting comprehensive fossil fuel reduction strategies. Let’s also establish universal no-cost programs to weatherize our homes and financial support for our homes and businesses both large and small to become “net zero.” Let’s implement education courses in all grades, in all K-12 schools and in colleges so our youth are energized for earth-friendly lifestyles and action.

    We, as public health professionals, in partnership with our medical and clinical care professionals, are working hard to tame the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are also wondering, how can we call Vermonters to action for an all-out attack on the already pervasive and urgent threat of the worldwide climate crisis?   Unlike COVID-19, the impact of climate change on health won’t be temporary. But also, unlike COVID-19, we have the cure. We now need the public will to deploy solutions aggressively, systematically and with determination!  

    Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, President, Vermont Public Health Association

    Dan Quinlan, Chair, Vermont Climate and Health Alliance

    ###

    For information about the VtPHA and National Public Health Week, visit https://vtpha.org/National-Public-Health-Week-2020

    For more information about the Vermont Climate and Health Alliance, visit https://www.vtcha.org/

    The VtPHA is a statewide membership organization that seeks to positively influence the health of all Vermonters. The VtPHA does this by providing a strong, independent voice for public health in Vermont through advocacy, education, and community engagement, and by bringing together professionals, policymakers, and partners.

  • 2 Apr 2020 9:38 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    National Public Health Week is April 6 - 12

    BURLINGTON, VT, April 2020.  With the COIVD-19 pandemic racing across the country bringing the potential to devastate all aspects of our communities’ infrastructure, economics, and education, it feels a bit anticlimactic to declare that National Public Health Week (NPHW) is April 6 – 12.  What an ironic time for the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) to do our duty by recognizing the 25th annual NPHW as sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

    For 25 years, communities around the country have recognized NPHW each April to acknowledge the role of public health in promoting a healthy and thriving nation. This year’s theme is "NPHW @ 25: Looking Back, Moving Forward.”

    Our original plans to celebrate this week were to outreach to Vermonters about our organization and offer an opportunity to recognize the role of public health in protecting us all every day of every week, all year long. This is the one week out of each year we stop to specifically highlight the role of public health in keeping us all healthy. Normally, we celebrate our accomplishments such as immunizations, public sanitation systems, and decreases in infant and maternal mortality. In more recent years we have framed our work in such concepts as community resiliency and health equity. As part of our planning, we are posting daily fact sheets on our website, www.vtpha.org, about key public health issues using the theme of “Looking Back, Moving Forward.” 

    But this year, NPHW falls during a massive pandemic being described as the public health threat of the century and being compared to the 1918 “Spanish” flu that affected a quarter of the world’s population. As of this writing, COVID-19 has caused nearly 40,000 deaths worldwide with more than 800,000 cases.

    So we will celebrate NPHW by doing what we do best as a public health professionals. We are the experts at disease surveillance. We work with health care delivery systems to prepare a clinical response. We inform policy makers of the latest science and advise the public to help them understand how they can protect themselves and their families. We advise our partners in housing and economics and education to be sure they have the information and awareness needed for them to create safety nets for individuals and families and communities.

    This year public health is being tested as never before - and we are up to the challenge. We will learn from COVID-19 and survive with a clearer vision of how to protect our population not only from infectious disease, but also to reinvigorate our work to improve Vermonters access to health and well-being by decreasing the inequities that result from our systems of employment and housing and education and food access. The public relies on us and we will not disappoint.

    Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN

    President, Vermont Public Health Association

    ###

    The VtPHA is a statewide membership organization that seeks to positively influence the health of all Vermonters. The VtPHA does this by providing a strong, independent voice for public health in Vermont through advocacy, education, and community engagement, and by bringing together professionals, policymakers, and partners.

  • 26 Mar 2020 9:41 AM | Vermont Public Health Association (Administrator)

    Dear Public Health Professionals, Providers and Advocates:

    The Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) is a not-for-profit organization whose membership includes a wide variety of individuals who work to promote and sustain the health and wellbeing of all Vermonters and individuals who come to Vermont for a variety of reasons.

    We find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented health challenge caused by a global outbreak of a highly contagious virus named the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, spreading globally and at a rate that is rapidly increasing. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 and no way to prevent its rapid spread other than to follow the recommended steps and strategies for prevention that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

    On their website, www.CDC.gov, you can find resources including five steps to reduce the risk of getting the virus, the signs and symptoms of the disease, and daily updated information on findings about the COVID-19 virus. Please access this dependable site. There are national and regional, well-established health care research centers, but we recommend you check the authenticity and data sources for sites you use for information and updates. A key resource for Vermont health care professionals and the Vermont public is the Vermont Department of Health at www.healthvermont.gov.

    The VtPHA Board is deeply grateful for the broad array of public health workers, clinicians and related professionals who work so hard in these demanding times to reduce the threat of COVID-19 spreading rapidly. They are working extended hours and days to meet the public’s and system’s needs. Their work is made even more difficult by the rising demands at hospitals and health centers, and medical supplies that are inadequate to meet the growing need. At this time, we thank the larger community in Vermont for the support and understanding shown for health professionals and the many affected workers who are giving their best effort to respond to the current challenges.  As a Vermont community, we all need to observe the recommendations and restrictions by state and national authorities including limits on gatherings, not traveling to other locations except for essential needs and social distancing by staying home and keeping six feet of distance between others in public settings. Although we will need to purchase food and other supplies, it is essential to refrain from buying in excess of what is reasonable so that others can meet their essential needs.

    During this global health crises, containment of COVID -19 is essential to lessen the potential strain on the system. Success depends on all of us doing our best to follow the national and local guidance from the CDC, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Vermont Department of Health and other experts in the health care field.

    Thank you for your commitment to our common health needs and for your work and support of those on the front lines of health care and public health. We will come through this and be more prepared and better integrated for new and different challenges ahead. For more information on the VtPHA, please visit our website at www.vtpha.org.

    Sincerely,


    Joyce M. Gallimore MPH, CPHQ

    Board Member, VtPHA


About the association

VtPHA is a membership organization which facilitates collaboration among people who care about public health and are interested in protecting and promoting the health of Vermont residents.

VtPHA is an Affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA). APHA is the national voice of public health and champions the health of all people and all communities. They are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health and a member community from all public health disciplines and over 40 countries. Learn more at www.apha.org.

Contacts

vtpublichealth@outlook.com
Vermont Public Health Association
P.O. Box 732
Burlington, VT 05402-0732

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