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MPHA/MEHA in Missoula

Richard Opper

Richard Opper, Director Department Of Public Health And Human Services, will welcome the conference attendees.

Register for the 2014 Annual Conference now!


Hear from these industry leaders on the latest public health issues:


Joyce R. Gaufin

Public Health in Transition:  Embracing and Preparing for the Future
- Joyce R. Gaufin, BS

In 2013, APHA Affiliate leaders identified three key areas that need to be strengthened in order to meet current and future challenges that face those working in public health (PH):  1) there is a need to identify new leaders and to develop the skills of current leaders; 2) identify new PH advocates, and additional skills to enhance current advocacy efforts; and 3) PH leaders need to identify new partners, and to create more effective collaboration with current partners.  Ms. Gaufin will address ways that APHA and the Affiliate organizations can help advance these issues, and she will address some of the most “wicked” challenges that have emerged in the area of PH.  She will identify specific skills and methods that can be developed by individuals and organizational leaders.  She will bring warmth, humor, and inspiration to those who work everywhere, every day, as they advance the public’s health.


Laura Anderko

Our Changing Climate: Impacts on Public Health
- Laura Anderko, PhD RN

Our world is changing. Human activities are causing environmental changes of epidemic proportions. Climate change, experienced as extreme weather events such as heat waves, drought, flooding, and wildfires can lead to serious impacts on the public's health. Changes are occurring at a rate that exceeds what the world has experienced over the last 650,000 years, but little attention has focused on the potentially catastrophic health effects of climate change. This presentation will discuss the evidence behind public health impacts of climate change, as well as how this is changing expectations of health departments. Mitigation and adaptation plans will be explored, along with public health and environmental health priorities attributed to climate change.


Katie Wehr

Re-imagining Health
- Katie Wehr, MPH

As we approach the mid-point of the second decade of the 21st century, public health faces multiple challenges that threaten its relevance and ability to deliver on its promise to protect and promote the health of our communities. These challenges include: the continuing impact of the great recession of 2008; a rapidly changing health care system in an era of reform; the proliferation of ‘big data’; the continuing epidemic of chronic diseases; and the demand for accountability and transparency in governmental services. Despite these challenges, there are also great opportunities, including those offered by the Affordable Care Act and the growing recognition of prevention's value. To meet these challenges effectively, to seize the opportunities in a timely way, to achieve our vision of people living long, healthy and fulfilling lives, we must re-imagine the way public health does its business. As creative leaders we must re-imagine how public health is organized, financed and conduct our population-focused practice. Innovative, promising practices from public health departments around the country will be shared.



Working to Innovate, Inspire, and Integrate in Public Heath Practice
- Carl Osaki, MSPH, RS

Carl Osaki has worked in public health since 1966. He has been a director of Environmental Health in rural and a metropolitan health departments; a vice chair of a state board of health; and a clinical associate professor in a School of Public Health. Carl will discuss some of his observations and experiences from his past to discuss innovation, inspiration, and integration in local, state, national, and tribal public health.

This month’s “We Are Public Health” highlights the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program

This story features the work of the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program.

We are public health.
We harness health information systems to combat high blood pressure.

In the state of Montana, over 30 percent of adults have high blood pressure, one of the major risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. While there are proven methods for keeping blood pressure levels at healthy ranges—through medication, diet, daily physical activity, and smoking cessation—the proportion of people with high blood pressure has steadily increased in Montana since 1995.

To combat this trend and improve the health of its residents, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Cardiovascular Health Program was created in 2000 to lead systems-level change efforts in healthcare settings. In 2011, the state health department was awarded a Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand clinical and preventative services. In particular, these funds served as a catalyst for hospitals, community health centers, and rural health clinics in Montana to work on their health information systems to address high blood pressure control.

In an ideal world, the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) would enable health care organizations to improve high blood pressure care through registries, decision support systems, and outreach capabilities for self-care education and follow-up. In Montana, program staff found that these capabilities differed greatly from organization to organization.

“Some organizations had low information technology staffing resources or had little knowledge on how to develop or pull such reports,” said Crystelle Fogle, MBA, MS, RD, Program Manager of the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program.

Combating these differences would have been difficult if not for funding flexibility.

“The funding really allowed organizations to choose a project that related to their electronic health records (EHRs), and then tailor their approach and quality improvement objectives according to their resources and needs,” said Marilyn McLaury, MS, RD, Quality Improvement Coordinator of the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program.

To date, the funding has supported the efforts of seven hospitals, thirteen community health centers, and five rural health clinics, with many showing promising and sustainable results. Though results vary from site to site, many of the participating partners have developed registries, improved reporting capabilities, and used EHRs to identify patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Others worked on patient and staff education, trained staff on accurate blood pressure measurement, and enabled alerts and decision support tools.

For example, when Benefis Hospital, in Great Falls, Montana, reviewed their efforts 10 months into the program they found impressive results. Not only were patients with high blood pressure formally identified (the first step in determining a baseline number), but patients with blood pressure at target improved by more than 20 percent. The hospital also adopted changes in their reporting systems, including registries and follow-up. Going forward, Benefis Hospital plans to sustain and expand its efforts by improving the registry functions, expanding the capability of automated blood pressure data entry, adding blood pressure competency training requirements for staff, and developing physician champions for blood pressure in each department.

Jonathan Griffin, MD, has seen how the funding has greatly augmented quality improvement systems and operations at St. Peter’s Medical Group, in Helena, Montana. “Major transformative efforts are underway in the realm of information systems and operations,” said Griffin. “The grant is helping us restructure our primary care teams and work together better to serve our patients.”

“As we complete the final year in the grant, we’re excited to see what our primary care partners have accomplished,” said Fogle.

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9/30/2014 » 10/1/2014
2014 MPHA/MEHA Annual Conference and Business Meeting

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