JSI @ APHA 2013: Sharing knowledge and experience in the field of environmental health


My Tuesday morning at APHA began with the exciting opportunity to hear Dr. James Krieger, a leading researcher on healthy homes from the University of Washington Medical School, describe his research initiatives to protect children and adults with asthma. Through home visits conducted by culturally-competent community health workers, dramatic improvements resulted in health outcomes and quality of life for high risk children and adults, with impressive cost savings realized through reduced need for medications, fewer hospitalizations, and other reductions in acute care treatment. The session included a presentation by Jean Zotter describing efforts in Massachusetts, several of which consultants hired by JSI have been working on for MDPH, including the Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities in Youth (READY) study and assessments to strengthen the infrastructure to support CHWs in providing reimbursable asthma services.

My presentation led the next session. It reviewed JSI’s evaluation of MDPH’s Asthma Disparities Initiative (ADI). Piloted in Boston and Springfield, MA, the ADI is defined by a unique collaboration between clinics and community-based asthma prevention coalitions to improve asthma education; reduce environmental trigger factors in home, school and community settings; and leverage changes in local policies to address determinants of health. Fascinating presentations followed from Utah and Mississippi about presenting health data in more compelling visual formats to prompt public health action (imagine a subway map where your life expectancy varies by which neighborhood you get off at). Workplace wellness initiatives in Tennessee were colorfully described – considering the particular challenges in a tobacco farming state.

Next, JSI’s Gretchen Latowsky and I header over to another session, Impacts of Climate Change: Utilizing Novel Methods and Techniques to Understand Long-term Effects. From community assessments of current climate change impacts in Alaska to results of satellite monitoring for changing rainfall and reports of mosquitoes that carry yellow-fever in California, we learned new approaches to monitor and address the very real and growing concerns regarding the public health impacts of climate change.

Passing by the Social Media Lab, sponsored by APHA and AIDS.gov and staffed by JSIers from multiple offices, I got to meet Mindy Nichamin from San Francisco and catch up with Aisha Moore from D.C.. What a fabulous service! They were offering free 20-minute sessions to public health practitioners to advance their efforts through social networking.

Then on to the JSI poster, Toward a health equity approach in adolescent health: Addressing social determinants in teen pregnancy, where I picked up a copy of our facilitator’s guide: Health Starts Where We Live, Learn, Work, and Play – Conducting a Root Cause Analysis and Action Planning Process. You should get one too! it’s clear, straightforward, and freely available online.

The last session I attended was presented by colleagues I’ve been working with through the Massachusetts Asthma Action Partnership. I heard about the great work being done on school and daycare initiatives to address asthma by Health Resources in Action. They invited me to their party afterwards and, knowing you all were going to accompany me on today’s blog, I thought I should end my post with a party! I enjoyed delicious food and conversations with fascinating people.

Then someone mentioned the elections—yikes, I had forgotten about voting today! So I rushed home just in time to cast my ballot right before polls closed. All in all, it was an inspiring day at APHA.

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