Public Health Matters: the quarterly IPHA e-newsletter

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  • 13 Sep 2018 5:00 PM | Anonymous member

    By: Beth Jones, IPHA President

    Hot off the press and finally here!  As many of you know, based on our time together in April at the annual meeting and our summer issue preview, it was time for IPHA to update our strategic plan to strengthen and clarify our position as a public health leader and advocate.  As a result of our work as a board, and engagement with you this spring, IPHA has a new strategic plan.  The strategic plan includes new mission and vision statements as well as values for our organization that we believe better clarify our role as an organization as well as solidify our work over the next few years. 

    • Mission:  Uniting and strengthening the voice for public health in Iowa.
    • Vision: A healthy and thriving Iowa because of the strong foundation laid by public health.
    • Values: Independent and respected. United and inclusive. Focused and proactive.

    The new strategic plan outlines the core functions of IPHA, the goals for each of our core functions and the strategic approach the board chose to “focus the network.”  As a part of this continued focus, we explicitly outline things we, as a board, chose not to prioritize.  As an organization, we believe we are a “hub” in a “network of hubs” with a unique role and we worked hard to prioritize the resources of IPHA through this strategic plan.  Things you will notice when you look at the overview of the plan is that the board will be working hard over the next few years to build fundraising capacity to better staff the organization, develop our ability to better communicate and share public health messages, grow as a board in our expertise, and continue to lead public health in Iowa through advocacy efforts.  

    Developing the strategic plan was not easy, and neither are the challenges ahead.  We are ready for the challenges and invite you to join us by inviting new members, providing a donation, giving of your time and continuing to support IPHA as we work to advance public health in Iowa. 

    To review the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, please click here.  The document is intended to be a high level overview, so please reach out to any of the board of directors if you have any questions! Now let’s go do great work!

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:59 PM | Anonymous member

    By: Bonnie Rubin, IPHA Treasurer

    The chapter of the women’s educational organization I belong (P.E.O.) has a booth every year at the Labor Day Flea Market held in the parking lot of the Johnson County Fairgrounds.  Yes, I was there all day with my fellow P.E.O. members, in the pouring rain, selling freshly baked cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes and the odds and ends we collected and brought to sell.  I even made coaster sets from the loads of wine bottle corks we happened to have.  We made $275 today and are quite excited.  That’s because it takes us another step closer to being able to contribute our usual $1,500 to the national office to help our organization achieve its mission – education of women throughout the world.  This past year, with other chapter contributions like ours, P.E.O. awarded over $4,000,000 in scholarships, grants and loans.  Wow!  But what does this have to do with IPHA?  To me, it’s a perfect example of the importance of every donation, every fundraiser, every webinar and training, every conference, every sponsor, every grant  - all the various methods we have in place and are working on to sustain and grow IPHA and how this contributes to the accomplishment of our mission – uniting and strengthening the voice for public health in Iowa and our vision – A healthy and thriving Iowa because of the strong foundation laid by public health.

    July is our designated month for IPHA Board members to call everyone who has donated to IPHA and personally thank you for your gift – and more importantly your trust that IPHA continues to represent the best of public health interests for you and the citizens of Iowa. “Giving is not just about making a donation.  It is about making a Difference.” (Kathy Calin, CEO United Nations Foundation).  IPHA has and continues to make a difference.  August was our month to visit our elected officials.  Our Senators and Representatives know us, they know IPHA – and they are willing to listen to our concerns and appreciate the data we can provide.

    Two months ago, upon the recommendation of IPHA President Beth Jones, the Board approved actions to allow IPHA to progress towards our plans to be able to fund the Executive Director position as full-time.  $1,750 is being transferred from IPHA checking to savings which would cover the needed revenue to make that happen.  We will be evaluating this action at our October meeting to determine if we can sustain the transfer.  That action along with our target budget of $128,482 for 2018 is a pretty “heavy lift.”  Through the hard work and leadership of the conference planning committee, IPHA Executive Director and all of you who attended and presented, proceeds to IPHA from the Governor’s Conference were $10,452.  We continue to work to meet our fundraising goals and budget targets for the year.  So, let’s remember, in the words of Vincent Van Gogh, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”  IPHA brings us together – and we will continue to accomplish great things.  

    Thank You!

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:58 PM | Anonymous member

    We are celebrating the second anniversary of our sustaining donor program by reporting out on its success and inviting you to participate.

    Monthly gifts help IPHA donors fit giving into their budgets and allow them to see that being more generous is possible.  Even a $10 monthly gift adds up to a $120 gift of the course of the year.

    IPHA presently has attracted 15 sustaining donors.  This small but mighty group of givers has collectively made 299 individual donations to IPHA totaling $5,211.  IPHA can stretch these monthly gifts quite a long way!    

    Can you join this group of sustaining donors?  

    Please give some thought to what a small, automatic monthly donation from you can do support IPHA’s mission to unite and strengthen the voice for public health in Iowa.  Learn more here.

    Donors who make monthly contributions provide stable funding that allows us to plan for IPHA’s future.  As a monthly supporter, your contribution to our mission is convenient and automatic.  With your sustaining investment, you assure that IPHA remains positioned to champion and strengthen public health in our state as the convener, promoter and supporter of Iowa’s public health community.

    A thank you to all IPHA donors!  Is your name on our list?

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:57 PM | Anonymous member

    By: Rachel Schramm, IPHA Affiliate Representative to the APHA Governing Council

    My name is Rachel Schramm and I am a Senior Health Education  Specialist at Linn County Public Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was elected to the IPHA Board of Directors in 2017, and was recently designated to serve as the Affiliate Representative to the Governing Council (ARGC) – which simply means that I serve as liaison between our state association and the American Public Health Association (APHA). And, I feel like I have big shoes to fill!

    Previous ARGCs include Deb Vander Plas and Louise Lex. To date, I have had the opportunity to work alongside our regional ARGC representatives from Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to discuss state/national public health policy, host a regional public health conference in Des Moines this past spring, and represent our association on regional calls. I look forward to getting more involved over the next year and representing our association to the best of my ability!

    In addition, I am very excited to attend my first APHA Annual Meeting & Expo as an ARGC on November 10-14, 2018 in San Diego with 12,000+ of our colleagues from across the nation. The theme of the conference, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now” is sure to be inspiring and full of ideas that we can apply at home. The conference sessions will focus on how to truly become the healthiest nation; we must eliminate health disparities and dismantle the systems and structures that prevent individuals and communities from reaching their full potential.

    I will be sure to represent IPHA well and bring back as many resources to share with you all in the November newsletter. Follow along with the conference on Twitter @APHAAnnualMtg, #APHA2018, or on the meeting website:

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:56 PM | Anonymous member

    Interview with Joy Harris, Public Health Modernization Coordinator, Iowa Department of Public Health

    Briefly describe your work and its relation to public health.

    My primary responsibility for the Iowa Department of Public Health is as the Public Health Modernization Coordinator.  Public Health Modernization is about looking at Iowa’s current governmental public health system and recommending changes so that we can improve.  The public health environment keeps changing so it is a continuous work in progress!  I am also the department’s accreditation coordinator.  In that role, I have facilitated teams across the department who gathered documentation that demonstrates the department’s ability to meet Public Health Accreditation Board national standards.    I also love a chance to help facilitate QI work and assist other health departments with quality improvement and going through the accreditation process.

    What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

    I’m torn between saying that the most rewarding aspect of my work is relationships or if it’s more about it being amazing to witness people looking forward when the pressures of each day just seem to mount.  Both are powerful in motivating me.  Public health practice takes courage.  I’m grateful for the work I’ve been able to do in partnership with local health departments, the Public Health Advisory Council, my colleagues at IDPH, and people I’ve had the opportunity to work with on a national level.  I cannot imagine doing the work I do solo.

    What led you to this career?

    Growing up I wanted to be an occupational therapist.  I went to school for that and I practiced for six years as an OT.  I learned some amazing things.  Part of what I learned, that I had not understood previously is that the patients I served were also interacting with a larger health care system.    The more I learned the more I wanted to be on the side of preventing my patients from even needing me in the first place.  Originally, it was environmental health that caught my eye but then somewhere along the way it became about the larger public health system.

    What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for public health in Iowa in the next two years?

    Frankly, I think it is difficult to know where we should move as a system.  I find myself asking in meetings “What should every Iowan expect from public health?”    The question has been a part of my work life the last 15 years.  I struggle some days to know if we are any closer to answering it.   However, I’m also optimistic that we haven’t stopped asking the question!   I see opportunities in embracing specific standards as a system and hope that more work can be done in the area of workforce development. 

    What role do you think IPHA could play in meeting those opportunities?

    I think of IPHA as a key player in shaping the public health system through collaborations, education, and advocacy.    I appreciate that IPHA is forward thinking, engages its membership, and always seems to be on the lookout for a chance to move Iowa forward. 

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:55 PM | Anonymous member

    By: John Peterson 

    Planning Healthy Iowa Communities (PHIC) is a collaborative effort of the Iowa Public Health Association and the American Planning Association Iowa Chapter to improve community health by expanding physical activity, encouraging better nutrition, enhancing the natural environment and creating a thoughtful built environment.

    PHIC has an opportunity to extend a $500 stipend to an individual who is a member of the Iowa Public Health Association and/or the Iowa Environmental Health Association and submits the winning essay. That stipend is required to be used for the winning individual’s attendance at the 2018 American Planning Association Iowa Chapter Annual Conference October 17-19, 2018 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In our effort to expand cross-collaboration between planners and public health professionals an essay contest has been established and funded for each of the next five years.

    Review the rules and application information for the essay contest here. The essay is required to be 500-700 words on the topic: “Connecting Public Health and Community Planning”. Essays will be judged by a three-person panel with representatives from APA IA, IPHA and IEHA. The submittal deadline is September 24th. The winner will be notified on October 1st. Early registration for the Conference ends October 10th; additional Conference information may be found at

    Questions or comments? Contact John Peterson or 515.401.0485.

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:54 PM | Anonymous member

    You are invited to submit an abstract for the 2019 Iowa Governor’s  Conference on Public Health held April 23-24, 2019 at the Airport Holiday Inn Des Moines. This is a great opportunity to share your work with over 500 public health professionals and make connections with future colleagues. 

    Public health professionals are encouraged to submit abstracts focused on current and emerging public health issues.  Innovative programs that reach beyond traditional health and environmental circles to collaborate with other disciplines are encouraged. Session presentations may be a 60-minute oral presentation, a 90-minute extended presentation workshop, or a poster presentation on the results of a health intervention/program, study, or report. 

    Additional instructions along with the abstract submission form are available here.

    This competitive abstract submission process will close on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 11:59 pm. 

    The Iowa Governor's Conference on Public Health will be held at the Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines on 4.23.19 and 4.24.19.

    The theme selected by planning partners for the 2019 event is Stronger Collaborations, Better Health: Bringing Organizations Together to Improve Systems.

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:53 PM | Anonymous member

    By: Dr. Ron Eckoff

    “Whereas, a major inadequacy in the civilian health protection in war as in peace time exists consequent upon the failure of many states and of not less than half the counties in the states to provide even minimum necessary sanitary and other preventive services for health by full time professionally trained medical and auxiliary personnel on a merit system basis, supported by adequate tax funds from local and state, and, where necessary, from federal sources: therefore be it RESOLVED, That the Trustees of the American Medical Association be urged to use all appropriate resources and influences of the Association to the end that at the earliest possible date complete coverage of the nation’s area and population by local, county, district or regional full time modern health services be achieved.”  American Medical Association, House of Delegates, June 10, 1942.

    A similar resolution was passed by the American Public Health Association and the State and Provincial Health Authorities of North America.  The Subcommittee on Local Health Units of the American Public Health Association, with support from the Commonwealth Fund, undertook a study and published a report in August 1945. 

    The committee first analyzed the status of local public health services in the nation and then developed the principles to use in designing proposed services.  The goal of the committee was “the creation of such number and boundaries of area of local health jurisdiction in every state in the Union as will bring within the reach of every person and family the benefits of modern sanitation, personal hygiene, and the guidance and protection of trained professional and accessory personnel employed on a full time basis at public expense, selected and retained on a merit or civil service basis, and free from disturbance by the influence of partisan politics.”

    The committee then presented a proposal for each state using the same format.  The narrative proposal for Iowa is presented on the Iowa Public Health Association’s Public Health History in Iowa web page.  The proposal begins with background information about the state and a description of the current public health services.  It then outlines a plan for 27 local health units for Iowa.  Tables with the specifics regarding the grouping of counties, the existing expenditures and service and the proposed staffing and budget for each local health jurisdiction are available from Ronald Eckoff,  There is also considerable background discussion regarding the development of the report available.

  • 13 Sep 2018 4:52 PM | Anonymous member

    By:  Dr. Louise Lex 

    Some plans are started with enthusiastic committees meeting about issues and then completed with an impressive document.  Healthy Iowans 2017-2021, Iowa’s Health Improvement Plan, fits a different mold.  It pulls together lots of other plans from agencies, programs, and advisory committees. The plan sets an actionable public health agenda that can impact the health of every person living in Iowa. It is expected that addressing key issues in the five-year plan will advance the health of all Iowans so they can live longer, healthier, more productive lives, and enjoy a rich quality of life—the overarching goal. 

    Healthy Iowans highlights the collective nature of public health and the importance of broad engagement; it involved an estimated 20,000 Iowans.  Central to the plan are 26 issues and themes that matter to Iowans because stakeholders in all 99 counties played a pivotal role in selecting them.  In an acknowledgment to their efforts, the counties with related strategies are listed for each issue or theme.

    Partners that submitted goals, objectives, and strategies in the plan agreed to take steps to reach the overarching goal.  Each year, the Iowa Department of Public Health asks these partners to assess progress and identify changes to maintain the plan’s relevance.   In 2018, about 90 organizations were involved in this evaluation.

    Promising trends during the first year of implementation include but are not limited to a reduction in lung cancer cases, a continuation of a declining coronary heart disease mortality rate, reduction in tobacco use among adults and youth, reduction in the exposure of children to pesticides, and increased numbers of children enrolled in Iowa’s Child Health Insurance Program.  On the other hand, there were negative trends causing concern.  Among them are continued high rates of obesity, deaths from opioid overdoses, increased suicides, and lack of attention to transportation, poverty, and disaster preparedness in the plan.

    Clearly, evidence in the plan shows that the hard work to improve the health of Iowans must go on.

    The Current Plan (revised July 2018) and the 2018 Progress Report are posted on the Healthy Iowans website:
  • 13 Sep 2018 4:51 PM | Anonymous member

    By: Audrey Tran Lam, MPH and Kamyar Enshayan, PhD 

    Center for Energy & Environmental Education, University of Northern Iowa

    Public health triumphs often challenge the status quo. From John Snow and his pump handle, to banning leaded gasoline, to creating policies for smoke-free public spaces, important change improving the health of the public has often occurred in the face of what was considered normal.  

    Urban pesticide application is no different.  An observational survey of residential areas in Cedar Falls, plus actual application data from parks and schools, revealed that at least 2,300 pounds of active ingredients of three weed killers (2,4-D, dicamba, and MCPP) were applied to this urban watershed in 2016. The results of the survey showed that there were entire neighborhoods near local streams where 100% of home lawns were treated.

    The evidence of harm for early childhood exposure to pesticides is well documented. How is the public health community going to triumph over this entirely preventable, troublesome pattern of cosmetic pesticide use in schools, parks, and even higher education campuses?  None of the previous public health victories were accomplished based on science and evidence alone; it took citizen organizing, local leadership, and community action.

    We have organized Good Neighbor Iowa and are in the second year of working with many Iowa communities, school grounds staff, park managers, child care facilities, and other large lawn managers. Lawns should be managed with child development in mind; it is possible and practical to manage lawns without weed killers. Local champions across the state are leading the transition away from cosmetic pesticide use across Iowa: 

    • City of Dubuque, Iowa City, Cedar Falls, and many other Iowa communities have pledged to manage 180 of parks using ecological approaches.
    • So far, 5,500 acres of mowed turf managed by churches, schools, parks, child care centers, and businesses have been pledged to be pesticide-free.
    • 3 Iowa school districts have committed to significant reduction in turf pesticide use and over 50 child care centers across Iowa have also pledged. As a result, over 19,500 children are not exposed to turf pesticides while at these institutions.  We are working with early childhood community across Iowa to improve environmental health in all early childhood settings.
    • Black Hawk and Linn county boards of health have officially endorsed Good Neighbor Iowa, advising against cosmetic use of pesticides.

    Generations before us brought us lead-free paint, smoke-free work places, and removed DDT from our environment.  Adopting pesticide-free practices for lawns to protect child health is a picnic by comparison; the entire state of New York’s schools and multiple Canadian provinces have already done so by restricted cosmetic pesticide use.

    We need your help to connect with community leaders across Iowa so that we can work with many more school districts, parks, and childcare centers. Together, we can begin to change our cultural attitude towards lawns--the same way we changed our attitude towards smoking.

    For more information about Good Neighbor Iowa, or 319-273-7150

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