|Grant to UNC School of Public Health supports workforce, student and community training efforts|
|March 25, 2004|
CHAPEL HILL -- Recognized leadership in life-long learning, student
service, and practice research were the keys to the School of Public
Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill being awarded
a $100,000 grant by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH).
The one-year grant will result in three training models, the first of which comes under the banner "workforce development" and will involve the creation of specialty courses and certificate programs for public health workers for competency accreditation and career promotion.
Working in Chatham County, the North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness, a unit of the School of Public Health's North Carolina Institute for Public Health, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health, began with a training needs assessment for each public health worker in the system.
The results of those individual surveys led to a follow-up plan for training and evaluation that was recently approved by the Chatham County Board of Health.
"The health department is committed to providing the public health workforce with resources and knowledge to address health risks and problems within communities quickly, effectively, and efficiently," said Dorothy Cilenti, Chatham County health director. The assessment was a big first step toward this, she said.
The cooperation of the public health workers in Chatham County was commended.
"Being able to work with Chatham County Health Department provides a great opportunity to see how life-long learning in public health can be applied," said Lisa Macon, workforce development coordinator for the public health preparedness center. "Customized training should make a positive impact."
The second part of the grant is putting the newly formed Team Epi-Aid to work in local counties.
Team Epi-Aid is made up of students wanting the experience of outbreak investigation in the field. At present, 103 School of Public Health students are enrolled as Team Epi-Aid volunteers. They receive field training before being assigned a project.
Dr. Pia MacDonald, director of the NC Center for Public Health Preparedness and founder of Team Epi-Aid, underscored the program's value.
"Team Epi-Aid assists in getting our students involved with the NC Division of Public Health and local health departments," said MacDonald, a research assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health. "They occasionally need workforce surge capacity to investigate outbreaks and benefit greatly from trained student volunteers."
To date, Team Epi-Aid students have helped in the Buncombe County Hepatitis A investigation and volunteered with the UNC norovirus outbreak, collaborating with the Orange County Health Department.
The third facet of the grant is a program instituted in Gaston County that focuses on social and emotional health in child care. There are plans to hire a child care health consultant, set up partnerships for resources and referrals with child care centers and homes, and provide related training.
The consultation, technical assistance, health education, health promotion, continuing education, resources and referrals will be coordinated by the School of Public Health's department of maternal and child health.
Dr. Jonathan Kotch, interim chair and professor of maternal and child health, will lead the Gaston County project, in partnership with Gaston County Health Director Colleen Bridger, a department graduate. Faculty will supervise implementation of a mental health consultation in child care demonstration and deliver in-service training to health department staff, who will then train child care teachers and providers.
"This grant will give us the opportunity to test a practice research model and at the same time make a difference in the lives of children in the community," Kotch said.
ASPH made the funding available to promote collaboration between public health schools and local health departments, creating what has been called "academic health departments." Strengthening public health infrastructure is another goal.
Each of the grant-funded projects will implement national objectives and recommendations from the landmark 2003 Institute of Medicine report, "Who will keep the public healthy?"
NC Institute for Public Health contact: Bev Holt, 919-966-6274, firstname.lastname@example.org
School of Public Health contact: Lisa Katz, 919-966-7467, email@example.com
News Services contact: Deb Saine, 919-962-8415