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President’s Message – Dom Frissora and Claire Boettler - May, 2015

From Dom Frissora:  There have been some major events in the Public Health arena in general and for the Ohio Public Health Association in particular during the past year.  

The major event was the Ebola crisis that hit the United States last fall.  The first case was reported in Texas and within a month, a nurse who was treating the patient in Texas had contacted the disease and had traveled to the Cleveland/Akron area.  At the time little was known about the disease and how to respond to it.  Summit County Public Health was highlighted on the national news for over a week and set the standards for best practices in addressing this disease.  About the same time there was an Ebola “false alarm” in the Columbus area and the Columbus Public Health took the lead to address the situation.  In both instances, the local Public Health departments were prepared to take the lead in coordinating action among the area’s health community, state government and federal government while maintaining the confidence of the general public.  They made Ohio proud and alleviated the fear within the general population.

In September, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden met with Ohio Public Health leaders in a meeting in Cleveland arranged by Senator Sherrod Brown and OPHA to discuss Ohio’s low health outcomes andnecessary action needed to address the situation. At this meeting Dr. Frieden vowed to work with Ohio’s state and local Public Health officials to address the disparities. 

During the year OPHA worked with the Ohio legislators to restore vector borne disease funds that were cut from the 2014-15 State Biennial Budget.  OPHA also initiated a state-wide Legislative Liaison program to work with and provide assistance to local state legislators on Public Health issues.

Our work is not done.  We have a lot to accomplish, and to do so we need our members to be engaged. Members can decide what they wish to work on and how much time they have to devote to the project.  If you feel you want to help improve Public Health in Ohio, please contact the OPHA office or any Governing Council member.  We need you.

From Claire Boettler - incoming President:  Looking Ahead

It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I accept “the gavel”and assume the role of President.  My excitement is related to all of the initiatives currently underway within the Association, and my enthusiasm stems from the relationship I’ve gotten to build over this last year with the members of the Executive Board and Governing Council!  I have to say, one of the best decisions I made in 2014 was saying yes to Randi Love when she contacted me to ask if I’d consider being a candidate for President-Elect.  I am so proud to be a member of OPHA, and so honored to have the privilege of serving as an officer. 

During my term as president I plan to continue fostering the momentum that has been established around important initiatives begun under our most recent presidents – Dom Frissora, Courtney Hudson, and Randi Love – with the indefatigable support of our Executive Director, Lois Hall.  

The most recent success story I would like to continue building upon is the Legislative Liaison project, which has been wonderfully facilitated by Policy Committee Co-Chair Mike Smeltzer.  Our recent Statehouse Advocacy Day, coupled with the Health Policy Institute on April 21st, was a great success.  We had 23 of the 33 trained Legislative Liaison members present to visit with their district representative and senator to make them aware of who we are, what we’re all about, and our willingness to serve as their Public Health resource.  

It is my sincere hope that more OPHA members will choose to participate in the Legislative Liaison initiative so we can continue to educate our legislators about the critical importance of Health& Equity in All Policies (HEiAP).  It is only by using a HEiAP lens when crafting legislation and policy that we will finally begin to impact the root causes of chronic disease and social determinants of health that particularly affect our most vulnerable populations.  I would love to see us reach the goal of having a trained and engaged Legislative Liaison in each of the 99 house and 33 senate districts! Our members definitely have the expertise... we now just need more motivation to make this happen.  After all, to quote our esteemed Executive Director, WE ARE PUBLIC HEALTH!


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