Public Health Matters: the quarterly IPHA e-newsletter

  • 16 Oct 2019 9:07 AM | Anonymous

    President's Column: Sherri Marine

    There's so much happening at IPHA!

    For the past year, IPHA has been setting course for some major and minor updates. We are still, and ever will be, the voice for public health in Iowa. How we are using our voice is changing with each new opportunity. I’m excited to share some of those with you now, and give you a preview of what’s ahead:

    ·        Our new 3rd Thursday Lunch & Learn series is an opportunity to connect with IPHA members and share your work. October’s will feature Black Hawk County Health Department’s work in applying systems thinking to all they do. Register today and join us for lunch!

    ·        Public Health 3.0 - are we there? What do we need to get there? How can IPHA help lead the way? These questions and more will be posed in our upcoming Public Health Workforce Development Survey. Your collective responses will help guide our future work in this area. So, watch your inboxes and please give us your honest feedback!

    ·        Are you a student or have an opportunity that would be great for a public health student? We are creating a way for you to connect! The IPHA student opportunity portal will be launched in November with our new website!

    ·        Wait?!? What?!? New website?!! Yes! We are launching a new website design in November! Soon when you call up you will be treated to a modern, interactive design that helps members connect and share information. It will also feature our new logo!

    ·        Yes, you read that correctly! After many years, IPHA is getting a makeover! We are thrilled with our new logo and are busy updating all our communications materials. Board member Rachel Schramm describes our new look as, “professional, fun, and out-of-the-box.” We couldn’t agree more!

    ·        Starting in January 2020 it will be even easier to maintain your IPHA membership. We are moving to an auto-renewal system, similar to how you pay for your various media subscriptions. You’ll sign up once and your renewals will be automatic until you tell us to stop. If you prefer not to auto-renew, payment by check is still an option. More information to come in November.

    ·        Where to find IPHA:

    o   The Burden of Gun Violence: Trends and Policy Solutions – 10/23/19 – Iowa City

    o   3rd Thursday Lunch & Learn webinar featuring Black Hawk County Public Health - 10/19/19

    o   IDPH regional meetings: Region 6 – 10/24/19 – Cedar Rapids & Region 5 – 10/25/19 - Ottumwa

    o   3rd Thursday Lunch & Learn – 11/21/19 (using IDPH data) & 12/19/19 (preview to the 2020 legislative session)

    o   IPHA Legislative Forum – 12/5/19 – Ankeny registration is open!

    o   Public Health Day on the Hill – 2/10/20 – State Capitol Rotunda – registration is open!

    IPHA Board of Directors Elections are coming up!

    The IPHA Board of Directors is made up of member volunteers, elected by their peers. Elections are held annually in January, and this round we will have at least two vacancies to fill. Anyone - individual member, student, retiree, or agency member - who has been a member for at least one year is eligible to run for a seat on the board. If you are entertaining the idea of putting your name on the ballot or know someone who would be a great asset to IPHA, join us for an informational webinar on November 6, 2019 at 11:00 am. The webinar is an opportunity to learn about what a Board Member’s role and responsibilities entail and the time commitment involved. Register today! 

    It’s an exciting time to be a part of IPHA! 

  • 27 Sep 2019 9:26 AM | Anonymous

    What’s Happening with the ARGC?: Danielle Pettit-Majewski

    I’ve heard that it takes about a year in any job to feel comfortable in your role. So, when Lina asked me to write about the ARGC for the fall’s newsletter, I immediately thought, “Well, I don’t feel like I know anything yet!” Because when I agreed to take on this role, I said “Sure!! What EXACTLY do I do?”

    So let’s start with the basics.

    What exactly is an ARGC? It’s an Affiliate Representative to the Governing Council. IPHA is a state affiliate of APHA, so essentially, I’m our representative to the American Public Health Association.

    What does the ARGC do? The ARGC assists helps disseminate information received from APHA to the members of the affiliate and importantly, represents the voice of our membership at the APHA annual meeting. The ARGC is to represent the affiliate as an informed voice, on the APHA Governing Council, and is responsible for maintaining liaison with the ARGC's of other affiliates. The ARGC may serve on the Council of Affiliates, if elected, and as such shall be responsible for maintaining liaison with and coordinating regional ARGC activities with respect to Committee on Affiliates recommendations and actions.

    So, what exactly does THAT mean? Basically, I’ll be representing Iowa as we discuss and adopt policy statements to articulate APHA’s position on public health issues to impact legislation and regulation. (So cool!)

    While I’ve had a bit of training on my role and responsibility, I’ll dive head first into this at the APHA Conference in Philadelphia in November. During this 4 day meeting, there will be three general sessions where we’ll nominate executive board members, determine future APHA meeting themes, and of course, policy changes and new business.

    As a self-proclaimed political junkie and policy nerd, I’m incredibly excited to learn as much as I can and voice the passions and concerns of IPHA Members!!!

  • 27 Sep 2019 9:17 AM | Anonymous

    University of Iowa graduate is working on project coordinated through IPHA: Aaron Reinke

    A recent graduate of the Master of Public Health program at the University of Iowa, Aaron Reinke isn’t waiting to make his mark in the field. He is working on an ambitious project in coordination with Iowa Public Health Association (IPHA) to aid in developing a consistent curriculum to train public health professionals across the state.

    “We are developing a tool for county health departments to monitor workforce development activities for their public health professionals,” says Aaron, whose emphasis in his studies at the University of Iowa centered on epidemiology. “The information we are gathering will help to objectively evaluate current workforce development opportunities and bring more consistency to the offerings across the state.”

    A career in public health wasn’t anything Aaron considered until his final year as a biology major at Iowa State University. During that year he attended a seminar hosted by the World Health Organization. The information presented piqued his interest.

    “As a biology major, I wasn’t really looking to become a doctor, but I didn’t want to just spend all my time in a lab,” Aaron says. “I wanted to help people. That seminar showed me that public health offered a path to do everything I loved to do in biology in a single career.”

    At the University of Iowa, he got involved in IPHA. All students in the Master of Public Health program are provided membership in IPHA. Through membership, he was introduced to the opportunity to work on the project he is working on now. 

    He says the involvement of IPHA in the project has been invaluable.

    “We are looking at all the counties in the state,” Aaron says. “In a state our size, a lot of the smaller counties are missed when the larger national needs surveys are done. IPHA provides a link to reach those smaller counties so we are sure that they are heard, and their needs are being met.”

    Aaron adds that being a member of IPHA has also helped him gain insight into the field of public health in general.

    “Without the regular communication and news updates from IPHA, it would be easy to get lost,” he says. “IPHA helps me keep up on what is going on in Iowa and what great things others in the state are doing.”

    That “network effect” is just one of the things that Aaron loves about public health.

    “I love how supportive everyone is of one another in public health,” he says. “There is no competition. Everyone is working toward the same goal of building healthier communities.”

    Editor's note: Since our conversation with Aaron, he has joined the team at Black Hawk County Health Department - CONGRATULATIONS Aaron, and a wise selection by Black Hawk County!

  • 18 Sep 2019 9:31 AM | Anonymous

    IGCPH 2020

    Even though the Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health will not be held until April 7-8, 2020, the planning committee has been meeting since May to evaluate last year’s conference and setting events in motion for next year’s conference. The theme is Local Action, Global Impact.

    The conference committee wanted to remind people that the work we do in Iowa mirrors that of our peers not just in other states, but globally. Around the world, there are public health professionals trying to improve immunization rates, get health care to rural and disadvantaged populations, and work with their governments on policies around fluoridated water, obesity, tobacco control, and reducing infant mortality. In our everyday work it can be easy to forget that we are members of a global community working to improve the health of over seven billion people.

    Abstract submission closed last week, and we had a record of 128 submissions for about 50 sessions. “This tells me that people value the Governor’s Conference as a venue to share the important work they are doing around the state,” said Lina Tucker Reinders, IPHA Executive Director. “In the spirit of this year’s theme of Local Action, Global Impact, the selection committee is focusing on getting practical, local information into the hands of the over 500 professionals that attend the conference each year,” added Dr. Jeremy Whitaker, one of the conference co-chairs representing IPHA.

    The planning process is about more than just the conference theme and finding quality speakers, though. “People like the conference format with more than 50 quality sessions and poster presentations in two days, but there is always room to make it a little better,” said Dr. Whitaker. “This year we are especially focusing on the conference atmosphere and working hard make it a place where people really feel like they can network and form connections that they will carry in their work across the state, throughout the year.”

    The conference is co-sponsored by IPHA and the Iowa Environmental Health Association. The other organizations that lend staff to the planning committee are the Iowa Department of Public Health, University of Iowa College of Public Health, University of Iowa Health Care Division of Child and Community Health, and the Iowa Counties Public Health Association.  

  • 17 Sep 2019 5:21 PM | Anonymous

    Iowa Public Health’s JFK: Dr. Ronald Eckoff

    Iowa Public Health’s JFK

    I believe one of the giants of Iowa Public Health was Dr. Josiah Forrest Kennedy, born in Pennsylvania in 1834. Upon graduation from the Medical Department of the University of New York City in 1858, he moved to Tipton and Mechanicsville, Iowa, where he practiced for three years.

    In 1885 Dr. Kennedy was elected Secretary of the Iowa State Board of Health, established just five years prior, where he served Iowans for 22 years.

    During his tenure, Dr. Kennedy also served as an assistant surgeon in the Union Army for one year, including two weeks of overseeing the wounded from Antietam, was elected professor of Obstetrics at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, and later professor of Obstetrics at the Iowa College of Physicians and Surgeons in Des Moines. Dr. Kennedy resigned as Secretary of the Iowa State Board of Health in 1907 due to ill health and died in Los Angeles on September 26, 1908. We are indebted to Dr. Kennedy for twenty-two years of outstanding leadership of public health in Iowa.

    Initially the SBOH only met twice a year. That increased to quarterly, but almost all the work fell to Dr. Kennedy and his one assistant. Dr. Kennedy responded promptly to questions and requests from the Governor, Legislature, local boards of health, physicians and others. In 1887 Dr. Kennedy began issuing a monthly Iowa Health Bulletin as the official publication of the Board. Initial circulation was 5,000 copies, and had doubled by 1905.  Scanning the biennial reports and Iowa Health Bulletins reveals the wide-ranging activities of Dr. Kennedy and the Board.

    Dr. Kennedy and the Board initiated sanitary surveys of schoolhouses, jails, and state institutions. They addressed concerns about the safety of food, water, milk and ice as well as issuing suggestions for water supplies for small towns. Dr. Kennedy and others made an extensive investigation of stream pollution in the Iowa River at Marshalltown in 1891. In 1896 the Board of Health was given the added responsibility to be the Board of Medical Examiners. The Board also had some unusual responsibilities, like approving gas lamps, and all instruments, testers and thermometers used to test petroleum products. All of this was done with an annual appropriation was $5,000, and for Dr. Kenney, a salary of $100 per month. Twenty-two years later, his salary remained $100 per month.

    Dr. Kennedy’s service was in the years right after the identification of pneumococcus, streptococcus, staphylococcus, tubercle bacillus, tetanus bacillus and other organisms. Consequently, there were many investigations of communicable disease outbreaks, many rules adopted, and many circulars distributed, frequently in multiple languages. There were concerns regarding transportation of dead bodies. Disinterment permits were requested and issued. There was a struggle to get good reporting of births and deaths, so vital statistics were unreliable. But Dr. Kennedy kept working to improve reporting.

    In 1891, the first Iowa Public Health Association was organized. Dr. Kennedy was a strong supporter and encouraged participation by local health officers or others interested in public health. That organization had meetings through 1895. In 1903 the Iowa Health Officers and City Physicians was organized, and Dr. Kennedy was again a strong supporter of professionals being a part of a network of colleagues, much like IPHA of today.

    You can see from my brief accounting of the issues Dr. Kennedy and public health colleagues faced over 100 years ago, that there are many parallels to what today’s public health professionals face. In 1896, when the number of cigarettes sold exceeded the number of cigars for the first time, Dr. Kennedy and the Board expressed great concern about smoking and health.

    In the next newsletter we will share some of their thoughts. Here is an excerpt from one of their papers, quoting colleague JJ Kellogg: “A few months ago I had all the nicotine removed from a cigarette, making a solution out of it. I injected half the quantity into a frog, with the effect that the frog died almost instantly. The rest was administered to another frog with like effect. Both frogs were full grown, and of average size. The conclusion is evident that a single cigarette contains poison enough to kill two frogs. A boy who smokes twenty cigarettes a day has inhaled enough poison to kill forty frogs. Why does the poison not kill the boy?  It does kill him. If not immediately, he will die sooner or later of a weak heart, Bright’s disease, or some other malady which scientific physicians everywhere now recognize as a natural result of chronic nicotine poisoning.” 

  • 16 Sep 2019 9:37 AM | Anonymous

    Share Public Health: A New Podcast from the Midwestern Public Health Training Center: Hannah Shultz

    At the Midwestern Public Health Training Center, we provide high quality trainings and educational opportunities for the public health workforce in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. In the last year, we’ve heard from public health practitioners that they were interested in public health podcasts.

    I must admit, I was initially skeptical. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts; surely, we don’t have anything to add. I figured I’d do some digging and find a few really great podcasts that we could highlight and share with people. Turns out, there are very few podcasts that cover public health and I couldn’t find one that was readily available on a variety of platforms, had a Midwestern focus, and consistently produced episodes.

    Share Public Health was born. We are intentionally keeping a very broad focus for our podcast: We connect listeners to public health topics, issues, and colleagues throughout the Midwest region and the country. We didn’t want to limit ourselves and run the risk of running out of content, experts, or energy to produce a narrowly focused show.

    Instead, we have identified topic areas and created mini-series to break up the show and allow us to plan. In the last Community Health Needs Assessment, a large majority of Iowa counties identified mental health as a priority. We kept this in mind and centered our first four episodes on mental health, including perspectives from different sectors and different approaches to mental health. As a regional center, we were able to tap into our partners in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to help us pull together content and identify experts.

    In addition to mental health, we also have done more than a dozen interviews with public health leaders from across the country that we are excited to share with you, including a set of episodes we produced with From the Front Row – a student podcast from the University of Iowa College of Public Health – talking with leaders in our region that were recognized by the de Beaumont Foundation’s list of 40 Under 40 in Public Health.

    Throughout all of this planning, I have kept two of my golden rules for communications in mind: 1) don’t do it just because we can, and 2) create with purpose. We have a goal of releasing one episode every week, except major holiday weeks, so it would be easy for us to produce a podcast quickly to meet the goal without keeping the purpose in mind. To prevent this, we made a few strategic decisions: 1) we are organizing the episodes into mini-series as mentioned above; 2) we produced a lot of podcasts before releasing one to make sure we could take our time on new episodes; and 3) we will always be working a few months ahead to avoid scrambling.

    We are just beginning our work with podcasts and have learned a lot in the last few months. We want these podcasts to be valuable to you, and provide new information, insights, or ideas. We welcome your feedback. Please be in touch with me at if you have feedback or ideas as we continue developing and producing Share Public Health.

    Hannah Shultz

    Communications & Outreach Specialist

    Midwestern Public Health Training Center

  • 15 Sep 2019 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    Farming for Public Health: Audrey Tran Lam

    This summer, in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), I had the privilege of helping plan and participate in five on-farm field days across Iowa. These field days highlighted a non-traditional group of public health practitioners: farmers.

    This will surprise no one--Iowa is struggling with some serious environmental health issues, most of which are water-related. From nitrates to harmful algal blooms, from pesticides to soil erosion, Iowa is predominately farmed in an agricultural system that results in a cascade of issues that not only impact people, but also the planet. Agricultural chemicals are used nearly ubiquitously in the state; just about 50 million pounds of herbicides are applied in Iowa annually.

    PFI field days are highlighting farmers working with the land to reduce their chemical footprint. These five field days gave farmers a platform to demonstrate to their peers:

    • How extending crop rotations, increasing diversification, and employing cover crops suppresses weeds, eliminates pesticides, and improves soil quality;
    • The use of flame-, electric-, and mechanical-weeding as alternatives to chemical weed management; and
    • What different organic crop production systems look like

    Long-term studies at ISU have shown that many of these practices translate to:

    • Higher yields
    • 88% reduction in herbicide use
    • 80% reduction in fertilizer application
    • 50% less fossil fuel use
    • Significant reduction in soybean diseases
    • Better soil health and retention (which means less erosion and more resilience to droughts and floods)

    The farmers hosting these field days are public health heroes. They are putting science into action, employing evidence-based practices on their farms to improve the health of their land and their communities. As public health practitioners, health care providers, and water utilities, we need to acknowledge and support these innovative farmers and their work. They’re truly farming for public health.

    Audrey E. Tran Lam is Environmental Health Program Manager at UNI’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education.  She manages the Farming for Public Health initiative.

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