September 2010

From the Institute Director

As we enter the fall and the new academic year, I want to recognize key partners of the Institute whose efforts have helped to secure new or continued support for programs that serve North Carolina public health practitioners, as well as those outside our state.

Despite unprecedented economic challenges, the North Carolina General Assembly has restored partial funding to our nationally-recognized Local Public Health Agency Accreditation Program, which has now fully accredited 50 of 85 local health agencies in our state. We thank those of you who advocated for accreditation funding to improve the quality of local public health.

We are also pleased that our federal funders, CDC and HRSA, have awarded grants to provide training and educational programs for North Carolina health professionals. New competitive grants to support a Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center and the Southeast Public Health Training Center will offer extensive training and education for front-line public health workers. Moreover, continued federal funding for the Southeast and National Public Health Leadership Institutes will allow us to continue our executive education activities.

Further, foundation support from North Carolina and national foundations has been centrally important to the Institute in delivering continuing education programs, conducting research and providing technical assistance in public health law, and continuing the Management Academy for Public Health, a partnership with Kenan Flagler Business School. The ongoing support of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for our Active Living by Design Program has allowed us to continue to address childhood obesity across North Carolina and throughout the nation.

All of these successes are attributable to the dedication and creativity of our NCIPH staff, our funders, our state and local public health practitioners, and our partners within UNC, across North Carolina, and throughout the nation. We are fortunate to have so many supporters.

We hope you’ll consider becoming a "FRIEND" (read more about this new program in our e-newsletter) so that we may share the accomplishments of these exciting projects with you in the months and years ahead.


Edward L. Baker MD, MPH
Director, North Carolina Institute for Public Health
Research Professor, Health Policy and Management
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health


Preparedness center awarded five-year, $4.6 million CDC cooperative agreement

The University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health has been awarded a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (PERLC) to meet the training needs of the workforce involved with public health preparedness and response in four states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The award is $4,688,285 over five years. Pia D.M. MacDonald, PhD, research associate professor of epidemiology and director of the North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness, is the project’s principal investigator.

"We are excited about continuing to work in partnership with local, regional, and state public health partners," MacDonald said. "We have established wonderful collaborative projects and programs with our partners in the past nine years and look forward to expanding our efforts around training with the new Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competencies soon to be issued by CDC."

The new learning center will target mid-tier public health professionals at local, regional, and state public health agencies in the four state service area. The UNC PERLC will collaborate with key partners in each state to develop training and educational opportunities around the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competencies currently under development by CDC and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). It also will develop partner-requested education and training.

The UNC PERLC will build upon the strong foundation in public health preparedness training and curriculum development established at the UNC Center for Public Health Preparedness including pandemic influenza planning, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, emergency law, public health surveillance, mental health preparedness, and applied epidemiology.


New Public Health Law Network to improve public health through law
Southeastern Regional Center to be based at UNC

From air bag requirements for cars to smoke-free regulations in restaurants and bars, law has become an increasingly powerful tool to create healthier, safer communities. As a result, those vested in public health – from local, state, federal, tribal officials and their legal counsel to public health practitioners, policy-makers and advocates – have an increasing need for public health legal expertise to help them develop, implement and enforce laws that help solve public health problems.

The Public Health Law Network opens September 20 to provide answers to professionals grappling with complex public health challenges that may warrant legal and policy solutions. The North Carolina Institute for Public Health’s (NCIPH) health law initiative, part of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was selected as one of five regional academic centers. NCIPH will partner with the National Health Law program, one of the nation’s oldest health law support centers.

The Southeastern Region will provide assistance to eleven states and will also serve as a national resource for the Network on legal issues related to accreditation and health care reform.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will fund the center over a three-year period. Gene Matthews, former chief counsel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and Senior Fellow with NCIPH, will be director of the new center.

Says Matthews, who was one of the founders 10 years ago of the modern public health law movement, "We are extremely fortunate during these hard economic times that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown the vision and leadership to support this vital effort to increase the use of law as an important tool in the practice of public health."

The collaboration with the Chapel Hill office of the National Health Law Program is significant for its historic efforts to increase and improve access to quality health care for low-income and vulnerable populations.  It offers expertise to public interest lawyers, government offices, and consumer advocates as well as monitors federal and state health care programs, especially Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and advises policymakers of needed improvements.

The Public Health Law Network, including the new Southeastern Regional Center, aims to increase the use and the effectiveness of public health laws in protecting, promoting and improving public health by delivering technical assistance and providing education and training to help public health practitioners, lawyers, policy-makers and others working to apply the law to pressing public health issues.

Anyone working in the fields of public health or law can call or e-mail the Network for guidance on how best to apply the law to their particular public health concern. Additionally, the Network will provide education and training focused on applying the law to improve public health. 

The Network will provide legal technical assistance on many public health topics, including, but not limited to: Cross-border public health, emergency legal preparedness and response, environmental public health, food safety, health reform, health information data sharing, injury prevention and safety, public health agency accreditation and regionalization, public health statutes and regulatory information, tobacco control, and tribal public health.

For more information about the Network, visit
For more information on the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,


HRSA award targets women’s health, mental health

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau has awarded a three-year, $305,000 grant to fund a project called Women's Integrated Systems for Health (WISH) Distance Learning Initiative. Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH, clinical assistant professor of Maternal and Child Health at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and deputy director of the Institute, will serve as the project's principal investigator.

The program will be part of the Southeast Public Health Training Center, which is housed at the Institute. Collaborators include the public health school's Department of Maternal and Child Health and UNC School of Medicine's Center for Maternal and Infant Health.

WISH addresses the need to better integrate public health and mental health systems to improve women's health across the lifespan. The program will train the public health and mental health workforce on specific competencies needed to apply a public health, population-based approach to the design of women's health policies, programs and service delivery systems.

More than a decade has passed since the Surgeon General's office released its first report on mental health, calling for the full integration of mental health into the nation's public health system.

"WISH will strengthen the public health workforce by bridging the public health and mental health training needs of interdisciplinary professionals using state of the art online methodologies," Cilenti says.

Already underway is the development of a national internet portal for continuing education in public health approaches to women’s mental health.


Accreditation program "back in business"

The good news: the accreditation program for local health departments (LHDs) was included in the 2010-2011 state budget. The bad news: it is funded at half the prior allocation. The shortfall means that although all partners agree to fund program activities (staff costs, board meetings, trainings and site visits), there will be no allocation to LHDs going through initial visits.

During the summer of 2009, NCIPH collected information from nine NC Local Health Departments (five were accredited, and four were not).

"There was wide variation in the scope and timing of local agency response to H1N1...The accredited agencies performed a broader scope of response activities, and implemented incident command and investigation activities more rapidly."

Mary Davis, DrPH, MSPH, Director of Evaluation Service, NCIPH

The scope of work for the year includes the full reinstatement of the site visit schedule, including ten initial site visits (Rutherford-Polk-McDowell District, and Greene, Iredell, Johnston, Union, Bladen, Graham, Montgomery, Sampson, and Columbus Counties) and two pilot sites (Pamlico and Cherokee Counties).

In addition, the Institute-led administrative team will start re-accreditation of LHDs this year. The ten health departments due to be re-accredited are Albemarle Regional, Gaston, Guilford, Rockingham, Robeson, Jackson, Hertford, Mecklenburg, Pitt, and Wilkes.

More accreditation news

Two new Accreditation Board appointments have recently been announced: Barbara Ann Hughes, Wake County Human Services Board, and Lorraine Salois-Deane, Past President of the Association of NC Boards of Health (ANCBH). Both appointments are through ANCBH.

The Health Department Self-Assessment Instrument Interpretation Document has been revised and the Accreditation Board is accepting comments. View the document on the Accreditation website.

Also, there is a need for Board of Health site visitors; if you are interested, contact Brittan Wood at or complete the online application.

Get more information about the Accreditation program at the website.


NCCPHP assists local health departments in planning for pandemic influenza continuity of operations

The North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness (NCCPHP) is partnering with the North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) to provide technical assistance for pandemic influenza continuity of operations (COOP) planning to local health department planners. All local health departments (LHDs) in North Carolina are required to develop an agency plan by May 2011.

Pandemic Influenza Continuity of Operations Planning: Information and Guidance for Local Health Departments in North Carolina is an online resource developed by NCCPHP in February 2010 intended to facilitate local pandemic influenza COOP planning. The website contains a number of planning tools developed by NCCPHP including worksheets for identifying and prioritizing essential services, checklists for common essential public health services, calculators for determining appropriate levels of PPE, or personal protective equipment, for employees, and spreadsheets for documenting LHD services. There are also links to COOP trainings and sample plans from other jurisdictions available. The site is expanded and updated frequently as new resources are identified.

As part of a new contract with the NC DPH, NCCPHP will be developing a new pan flu COOP planning template. This template will be patterned after the pandemic influenza plan 'essential elements' checklist developed for LHDs in 2007 by NCCPHP. This checklist will then be used to help assess LHD pan flu COOP plans that are submitted for State review in May 2011. For additional information about COOP planning contact NCCPHP Research Associate Richard Rosselli,

Last year's lessons learned

Flu EpidemicThe emergence of the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic virus in April 2009 resulted in an unprecedented vaccination campaign in the US during the 2009-2010 influenza season. Within six months of discovering the novel H1N1 virus, a new H1N1 influenza vaccine was developed and distributed through public and private channels. Beginning in October 2009, local health departments (LHD) in North Carolina administered vaccine to the public through clinic appointments, walk-in mass distribution centers, and school-located vaccination sites.

The impact of the H1N1 vaccine campaign on North Carolina LHDs was significant, especially early in the campaign when the public's demand for the vaccine far outweighed supply. LHDs had to quickly increase their staff and resources to distribute vaccine and devise resilience strategies to balance the response with the continuation of essential LHD services. These newly developed strategies and promising practices are valuable to LHD planning efforts for future influenza pandemics and outbreaks.

As a follow-up, a campaign evaluation study was conducted April-July 2010 by the North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness, with key findings from interviews with LHD personnel. The study also includes recommendations based on the results for both state and local level health department staff that can be applied to future large-scale vaccination campaigns.

Recommendations for local operations include increasing staffing, improving tracking, increasing sites to reach the broader community, communicate often, in other languages where needed, and respond promptly to misinformation.

For more information or to request a copy of the report, please email


Student practica: A win-win for both the students and local NC health departments

Korede Adegoke Marian Sadler

Students Korede Adegoke (MCH)  and Marian Sadler (HBHE)

"It was interesting seeing programs that had been discussed in class being put into practice in the field" says one UNC student-intern, part of the NC Public Health Leaders in Practice Program, sponsored by the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Institute, NC AHEC, the NC Public Health Foundation, and NC local health directors.

Completing 400 hours over the summer, Korede Adegoke (MCH), Anna Bauer (MCH), Katy Harris (HPM), Erica Preston-Roedder (HPM), and Marian Sadler (HBHE) worked beside public health staffers within the health departments in Wilkes, Brunswick, Watauga, New Hanover, and Buncombe Counties.

While the students shadowed key personnel representing different parts of the public health system and attended a variety of community meetings as learners, they also contributed in some very concrete ways, such as:

  • Helped to write and review grants for a healthy weight campaign, breastfeeding, and diabetes programs;
  • Created data systems for BMI measurements and analysis of obesity rates;
  • Did data analysis and evaluation for men's preventive health outcomes, HIV testing, and attention to air quality flags;
  • Evaluated health communications such as a local health department's website;
  • Designed a hurricane shelter assignment staffing system;
  • Gathered and collated data for community health assessments;
  • Conducted focus groups with middle school students about weight issues;
  • Researched and made recommendations for an afterschool program promoting physical activity and good nutrition for middle school-age children.

A critical piece of the success of the program was the involvement of the Gillings School of Global Public Health departments of Maternal and Child Health, Health Policy and Management, and Health Behavior and Health Education.

"The program offers students a chance to learn about local health departments, something that is not always possible because health departments often do not have funding to pay a student." says Southeast Public Health Training Center director Janet Place. "The students not only work in health departments, but are mentored by senior health department leadership. The other important aspect is that students go through the program as group. They are provided with leadership resources and webinars to build their leadership skills and their understanding of public health practice. This provides an opportunity for the students to interact with each other and share their experiences."

Because of the positive feedback from the field, the NC Public Health Leaders in Practice Program will be accepting more applications next year. Get more information.



Institute  receives federal support for training center

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the award of $16.8 million to support 27 Public Health Training Centers (PHTC) at schools of public health and other public or non-profit institutions across the country. The Southeast Public Health Training Center (SPHTC), part of the NC Institute for Public Health at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health received $3.2 million, mostly made available by the Prevention and Public Health Fund included as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The five-year grant supports the SPHTC work in both North Carolina and West Virginia. The SPHTC was initially funded in 2000; thus, this is the start of the third five year cycle. Previously the SPHTC included partners in  NC, SC, WV, SC and KY. With the increased funding, all the states but WV now have their own PHTCs.

The PHTC Program helps improve the public health system by enhancing skills of the current and future public health workforce. Institutions accredited to provide graduate or specialized training in public health were eligible for funding.

“Our Public Health Training Center has been critical to assessing and meeting the training needs of public health practitioners throughout the state and region,” said Ed Baker, MD, director of the NC Institute for Public Health, a research professor of health policy and management, and principal investigator for the SPHTC. “The expanded network and HRSA’s increased commitment to public health workforce development provide many new ways to address the critical NC public health workforce needs in innovative, evidenced-based and assessable ways.” 

“The PHTC Network has been highly successful in influencing national workforce development policy. The SPHTC took the lead in the development of the new three tier national public health core competencies which guide the work of all PHTCs. The PHTCs build the core competency skills upon which more specialized training can be built. The expanded network is an exciting opportunity to strengthen national, regional and state workforce development processes. What is most exciting is the ability to continue working in more innovative ways with those states with whom we have had a long  and productive collaborative relationship,” adds Janet Place, director of the Southeast Public Health Training Center.

For more information on the work of the Southeast Public Health Training Center, see, or contact Janet Place at



Institute partners with local county coalition to reduce underage drinking

Orange County, North Carolina is the home of UNC and the NC Institute for Public Health, and like many American communities, there is concern for alcohol and drug use among its school-age kids.

The statistics are weighty: The average age of first alcohol use in Orange County is 13. The number one place to get alcoholic beverages is from parents or other adults. High numbers of automobile accidents, teen pregnancies, drop-outs, incidents of violence and crime, not to mention health effects, are related to alcohol use among those aged 12-20.

The Northern Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth shared several of its challenges with the Institute and specifically its marketing and communications team.

Marianne Hark, coalition coordinator, says, "We have a lot of information we need to get out to the public and especially parents, and the Institute seemed to be a good resource for ideas."

Safe HomesBesides designing a media kit, NCIPH worked with the partnership on the visibility of its Safe Stores program. "Secret shoppers" periodically see if vendors sell beer and wine to youthful-appearing customers without asking for identification. They will recognize those in their community who were conscientious with a special window decal, designed by the Institute graphic artist Zannie Gunn, who also created design elements for other promotional pieces.

Safe Homes is another part of the coalition's work that enlists parents of Northern Orange County students to pledge they will not serve alcohol in their homes to minors. Newspaper advertising, posters at PTA meetings, and a thank-you breakfast are planned, with the Institute's help, to salute those who are letting their neighbors know their kids will be in a Safe Home when coming to teen parties held at their houses.

Adds Hark, "We have some wonderful partners we work with--schools, the health department, law enforcement, and it has been great to add a public health group that also knows about communicating a message and helping us stand out."


County health rankings lead to a Healthier Halifax Forum

This July, over 70 participants attended a community forum in Halifax County, North Carolina to discuss the County Health Rankings and "where to go from here." The forum was sponsored by the Halifax County Health Department, Halifax County Economic Development, the NC Division of Public Health and the NC Institute for Public Health. In addition, the forum was sponsored in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through a grant to the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

The participants represented various community organizations, including the health department, hospital, public education, businesses, recreation, dental providers, and mental health. The forum attracted city and county government officials, as well as NC Representatives John May and Angela Bryant.

With Halifax County ranking 96th (out of 100) in health outcomes and 93rd (out of 100) in health factors compared to other counties in North Carolina, the attendees agreed that there is much work to be done. There are things to celebrate, as there were several measures where Halifax County ranked better than other NC counties, specifically in Clinical Care (47th) and Physical Environment (6th). Challenges were identified as well, such as the unemployment rate, number of children living in poverty, low educational attainment and inadequate social support. The forum highlighted the successes of several groups and promoted opportunities to implement evidence based strategies to improve the health of Halifax County.

Overall, the forum was a great success, and attendees from three other NC counties have requested forums for their own counties.

View the health rankings of Halifax and other North Carolina counties.


Become a Friend of the Institute

The North Carolina Institute for Public Health is extending an invitation for those who believe and support its work for better health in North Carolina.

Think of it as a club with a mission, a new way to network with public health professionals, community leaders, and others interested in a stronger public health system. You will part of a group who will be a respected resource for the work of the service and practice arm of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, for what NCIPH is doing now and its future directions.

When you give a gift of $25 or more to NCIPH, you will be the forefront of all Institute news and activities. You will be feted at an annual luncheon.  Most importantly, you will be financing scholarships for workforce development, field opportunities for students, and helping the Institute assist local health departments and other public health agencies and organizations to improve health in North Carolina communities.

In addition to a tax deductable, everyone who signs-up between now and December 31, 2010 will be entered into a drawing for two Carolina basketball tickets.

How to give:

  1. Go to
  2. Select your method of payment
  3. Select "Departments, Institutes, and Programs"
  4. In the box that appears, select "North Carolina Institute for Public Health (4677)"

Become a Friend of the Institute in 2010.