The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (October 2)

October 02, 2015|1:03 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Must-read news for leaders in public health.

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ASTHO Hosts Nation’s Top Public Health Experts at Annual Meeting

This week was all about the 2015 ASTHO Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. Presenters included CDC Director Tom Frieden, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Acting Assistant Secretary for HHS Karen DeSalvo, and HRSA’s Associate Administrator of Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, as well as health officials across the country, from Alaska to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands to Washington state.

The event culminated with new ASTHO President Ed Ehlinger unveiling the new ASTHO President’s Challenge: “Advancing Health Equity and Optimal Health for All.” ASTHO was also honored to present Vision Awards to Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, and Missouri for groundbreaking public health programs, and the ASTHO Public Health Heroes Awards to some of the field’s great leaders.

This year’s ASTHO Annual Meeting sessions covered a wide array of public health topics. Dr. Lu, Vermont Department of Health Commissioner Harry Chen, Minnesota Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Jeanne Ayers, and Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman covered the long-term effects of childhood trauma and preventing adverse childhood experiences. Jay Butler, director of the Alaska Division of Public Health, Esther Lizama-Muña, chief executive officer at Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Anna Whiting Sorrell, director of operations planning and policy at Tribal Health Department, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, explored how historical trauma and current health challenges affect territorial and tribal health.

Ursula Bauer, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, discussed how leveraging epidemiology and surveillance, environmental approaches, healthcare system interventions, and community programs linked to clinical services can improve the health of older Americans. Former Utah Gov. and Former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt provided advice on how health departments can advance a culture of positive health change.

To see highlights, quotes, and photos from the ASTHO Annual Meeting, visit the #ASTHO15 hashtag on Twitter.

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States Prepare for Hurricane Joaquin, Whatever He May Bring

Health departments are bracing for Hurricane Joaquin. Although the Category 4 storm may not make landfall in the United States, East Coast states will receive heavy rainfall. With up to 15 inches of rain expected in North and South Carolina, Govs. Pat McCrory and Nikki Haley have declared states of emergency, as have Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to prepare for prolonged rain and tropical storm conditions, and the health department has been heavily tweeting preparedness tips for its constituents.

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Drugged Driving Playing an Increasing Role in Car Accidents

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association has found that more than 39 percent of drivers who died in car accidents and were drug-tested in 2013 had drugs in their systems, up from 29 percent in 2005. More than a third of the cases involved marijuana.

"Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana," says Governors Highway Safety Association Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. "We encourage NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to issue guidance on best practices to prevent marijuana-impaired driving.”

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