From the director:
It's all about the people
It's all about the people
Since joining the North Carolina Institute for Public Health in
2003, I have been consistently impressed by the dedication of the
Institute's extraordinary staff. Whether they are involved in training
public health workers across North Carolina, managing programs that
promote and protect health, or executing a range of support functions
that are essential to the Institute's success, I have found our staff
to be highly competent and a true pleasure to work with. As a result,
our many partners consistently pay compliments to those who make
the North Carolina Institute for Public Health such a special place.
No one in the Institute exemplifies this extraordinary level of
dedication to service more than our business manager, Judy
who will be retiring on June 30, 2010.
Through over 38 years of dedicated service to the School of Public
Health, Judy Beaver has consistently and creatively solved difficult
problems and crafted innovative solutions to complex issues. Throughout
her career, Judy has managed a diverse array of programs and projects
within the NC Institute for Public Health (NCIPH) and its antecedent
organizations, including the School's Center for Public Health Practice.
The business office which she directs manages multiple contracts
and grants from over 100 funding sources with a range of partners
and providers like the North Carolina Division of Public Health,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation, and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The NCIPH business office is the central point of contact with a
wide range of practice partners across North Carolina, including
local health departments and North Carolina foundations (such as
the Duke Endowment), with which the Institute does business.
In addition to an extraordinary range of technical skills, Judy
is the consummate "people person". She has seen her job
as consistently helping others do their jobs. Her exceptional commitment
to service is unparalled, and her "can do" attitude is
totally refreshing and inspiring. Not only does she do her job exceptionally
well, she inspires all who work with her to do so as well.
We will all miss Judy greatly and I can say with complete confidence
that it won't be the same without her. We wish her all the best and
thank her from the bottom of our hearts for all she has done and
for setting such an inspiring example for all of us to follow.
Edward L. Baker, MD, MPH
Director, North Carolina Institute for Public Health
Professor, Health Policy and Epidemiology
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Pfaender retires from the Institute
Sheila Pfaender, assistant director for program and resource development,
retired from the Institute in April of this year.
Pfaender, a native of Minnesota, worked first for the SPH's Center
for Public Health Practice, which later became the NC Institute for
Public Health. She wore many hats over the course of her career at
the SPH, but one had the broad brim to oversee grant proposal development
within NCIPH and with partners such as local health departments and
public health incubators. She estimates that she wrote or directed
proposals resulting in over $20 million in awards during her twelve
years with the university.
Pfaender wore her research associate hat when she led community
assessments and other research projects. With assistance from a number
of current and former SPH students, she developed community health,
environmental, and mental health service assessments for 25 NC counties.
Rachel Stevens, NCIPH's first deputy director, said, "With
degrees in biology and ecology and evolutionary biology, I thought
here was an evidence-based scientist who would complement the Institute's
big picture mission, and she did."
In retirement, Pfaender, who is married to SPH Environmental Sciences
and Engineering Professor Fred Pfaender, plans to enjoy her Roaring
Gap, NC, mountain retreat and its golf course, visits with her family
(especially grandson Alexander), and keeping her hand in public health
practice via consulting projects.
High tech options to impact public health
With the provision of unprecedented funding to automate healthcare
in the United State through the ARRA HITECH Act, the adoption of
electronic health records (EHR) and the exchange of digital patient
information has grown and will be growing dramatically over the next
decade. Automation is expected to improve the quality of care and
to play a central role in "bending the healthcare cost curve."
In North Carolina, local public health plays an important role as
a healthcare provider to Medicaid recipients and to those who are
uninsured. In 2008, local health departments provided care to 395,000
uninsured North Carolinians.
The Southern Piedmont Partnership for Public Health, one of six
public health incubator collaboratives, is completing the NC Telehealth
Network for Public Health (NCTN-PH). NCTN-PH is building the essential
network infrastructure that will provide dedicated, high-speed, redundant
data transmissions for local public health. Leveraging $6.1 million
in Federal Communications Commission funding, the network will enable
public health departments to adopt a common EHR and to rapidly and
reliably exchange patient information with one another and with other
In addition, the Southern Piedmont Partnership has, with assistance
from the Robert Wood Johnson's Common Grounds funding, developed
a comprehensive set of EHR business requirements. The Common Grounds
project trained public health clinicians in business process analysis
techniques, and then engaged them in a thorough review and redesign
of public health clinical workflows. As a result, local public health
departments now have a comprehensive set of business requirements
that can be mapped against EHR vendor solutions to determine which
options will best satisfy their clinical needs.
Finally, the Partnership has initiated work on the Southern Piedmont
Health Information Exchange (SoPHIE.) SoPHIE will enable local health
departments and other healthcare providers to exchange digital patient
information. SoPHIE use cases and a technical architecture have been
developed, and an RFI is being drafted currently to establish vendor
interest and preliminarily evaluate vendors' capacity.
To quickly and effectively respond to the rapidly changing health
information technology landscape, specifically to emerging HITECH
funding opportunities, the Division of Public Health (DPH) and the
North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors have established
the Public Health Information Technology Steering Committee (PHITSC).
Composed of representatives from both organizations and staffed by
the Institute and DPH Information Technology Services, PHITSC engages
in a number of activities to allow local public health to leverage
the HITECH funds. Most importantly, PHITSC has developed proposal
submissions to secure support for training and technical assistance
for EHR adoption, to evaluate and select an Health Information Exchange
vendor and develop SoPHIE, to automate key communicable disease case
reporting functions, to develop EHR interfaces with NC-CATCH (a community
assessment data warehouse), and to select and fund an EHR for local
The Institute's John Graham, who is working with these projects,
says, "A great deal of work has yet to be done, but for now,
North Carolina public health is a leader in this new and dynamic
Network delves into practice-based research
The North Carolina Public Health Practice-Based Research Network
(NC PBRN) is designed to stimulate and support new research based
on the work of nine local health departments of the Central North
Carolina Partnership for Public Health, part of a state incubator
initiative that fosters regional collaboration. The network allows
the health departments and their research partners to study the implementation
and impact of practice innovations designed through the incubator
The network is administered through the NC Institute for Public
Health and includes collaboration with the NC Division of Public
Health and with research partners at the UNC Center for Health Promotion
and Disease Prevention. The project director and principal investigator
is the Institute's Dr. Ed Baker; the co-PI is Rosemary
Summers, DrPH, MPH, of the Orange County Health Department.
Utilizing a model developed by several of the local health department
partners, NC PBRN is researching public health infrastructure improvement
via workforce development. Focus groups were conducted with local
public health staff supervisors to voice key issues and questions
to identify strategies for improving the organization, financing
and delivering public health services in real-world community settings,
and bridging the gap in communication and collaboration between practice
Using NC Quick Strike funds and led by Jen Horney, PhD, with the
NC Center for Public Heath Preparedness, NC PBRN conducted a community-based
rapid needs assessment of seasonal and novel influenza vaccines.
Based on 207 interviews in Orange and Alamance Counties, the study
found that knowledge of and intention to receive both novel and seasonal
vaccines was high. The findings were used by the NC Division of Public
Health in the design of the H1N1 immunization program. Read the results
in the CDC's Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Report.
The NC PBRN is also evaluating the effects of a recent change in
state policy that reduces Medicaid funding for maternity outreach
and postpartum services to low-income women and their children. A
research team composed of faculty at the Gillings School of Global
Public Health and staff at the Institute are working with the NC
PBRN and other local and state public health leaders to determine
how the cuts affect service provision, as well as outcomes and local
health department core capacity in other service areas. Once secondary
data has been analyzed, the research team will create and administer
a survey to be administered to health directors this summer. The
survey will assess the extent to which the LHD has been affected
by the reimbursement cuts. For more information, please contact Principal
Investigator Rebecca Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NC public health social workers gather for leadership forum
On March 19 and 20 in Burlington, NC, approximately 25 public health
social workers, academic partners and sponsors from across the state
came together to develop a response to extensive funding cuts to
public health social work services and other programs over the past
several years. As a first step, they decided to create an opportunity
for current and future leaders to convene and strategize ways to
build capacity for change.
Participants examined the current scope of public health social
work practice in North Carolina and how it may transform communities
and improve health in the future. They developed personal and collective
leadership skills through facilitated discussions and working sessions
with colleagues. The group also identified ways to advance the profession
of public health social work and increase the visibility of the role
public health social workers play in addressing critical challenges
facing the state and nation.
As an initial step, participants plan to identify roles for public
health social workers in each of the recommendations from the NC
Institute of Medicine’s Prevention Action Plan. Three priority
areas for action will be selected for further development and implementation.
In addition, they will continue to develop their leadership and advocacy
roles through networking, mentoring, and individual coaching.
Improving investments in community health
At a statewide public health and hospital collaborative meeting
in Chapel Hill in March, 32 stakeholders, including local public
health directors, hospital CEOs, the NC State Health Director, academic
partners, representatives from the NC Hospital Association, and leaders
from nonprofit organizations and funding agencies met to inform and
engage leaders in the examination of collaborative strategies to
enhance community health through strategic alignment of community
The NC Institute for Public Health, in collaboration with the NC
Division of Public Health, the NC Hospital Association, and the NC
Association of Local Health Directors, conducted the meeting. It
was supported with funding from Dennis and Joan Gillings, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Network of Public
The meeting successfully engaged leaders in sharing strategies and
lessons learned from state and national community research and practice
designed to invest in community-based prevention. Participants agreed
to pursue specific action to build on accomplishments from existing
public health and hospital collaborations.
The proceedings from the meeting were presented to the NC Public
Health and Hospital Collaborative Steering Committee in April. The
committee agreed to convene regional public health/hospital meetings
over the next six months to further explore ways to implement the
recommendations from the meeting.
An early look at Healthy North Carolina 2020
While the specific objectives will not be officially released until
later this year, the Healthy North Carolina 2020 Steering Committee
has been reaching out to involve local health departments, community
leaders, health organizations, and public health experts to create
a ten-year action campaign for "A
better state of health".
Healthy NC 2020 will focus on tobacco use, nutrition and physical
activity, STDs/unintended pregnancy, substance abuse, environmental
risks, injury, infectious disease/foodborne illness, mental health,
oral health, maternal and infant health, social determinants of health,
and chronic disease prevention. Each of these areas will have measurable
In addition, Healthy NC 2020 will include tips, tools, and resources
for various groups, such as employers, legislators, schools, individuals,
insurers, health care providers, communities and hospitals to help
implement the plan.
The NC Institute of Medicine is leading the project at the request
of the Governor's Task Force for Healthy Carolinians. The NC Division
of Public Health and Healthy Carolinians are actively involved. The
Institute's Dorothy Cilenti is on the steering committee.
Healthy NC 2020 is posting meeting
summaries on their website and your feedback is welcomed.
To be a success and advance the state up from its current health
ranking of 37, Healthy NC 2020 will need broad awareness and participation
across the state. If you would like to have someone speak about this
program to a group in your county, contact Laura Edwards, NC DPH
prevention specialist and campaign committee chair, at email@example.com.
Public Health Business Planning on the road
Five county-based teams in Florida started revenue-generating public
health business plans this month, with help from the Institute. St.
Lucie, Orange, Seminole, Brevard, and Osceola counties will develop
their business plans based on public health needs from their community
health assessment work, using the template from Public Health
Business Planning: A Practical Guide. Co-authors Steve Orton
from NCIPH and Pamela Santos from Kenan Institute (Kenan-Flagler
Business School) spent a full day getting the teams started. Each
team will develop a feasibility plan and then a full business plan
over the next three months. The 75 participants included health directors
and program directors from public health departments and a wide range
of community partners from the non-profit sector, healthcare, academics,
and foundations. The effort is supported by the Florida Department
No square peg in a round hole: NCIPH offers customized training
workshops and courses
While the Institute offers dozens of courses--face-to-face, video,
and online--many of our partners have specific training needs that
might not match our catalog. Using curricula designed by our continuing
education specialists, the Institute can customize workshops and
courses for health partners, both for-profit and non-profits.
An example is the Leadership Novant program. Working with NCIPH,
the senior leadership of Novant Health, a not-for-profit, integrated
healthcare system that serves primarily Virginia and the Carolinas,
has developed an innovative nine-month leadership development program
for their high tier directors. Leadership Novant addresses the challenge
of developing leaders with a global view of the organization that
can help Novant meet the demands of an increasingly complex health
care industry. It focuses on the future success of the healthcare
system in achieving superior outcomes in quality, physician satisfaction,
customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and financial viability.
The goals of the program are long term individual development and
application of skills and concepts, and long term organizational
development and culture change.
For more information about customized courses for your organization,
contact Dr. Stephen Orton at firstname.lastname@example.org.