|Public health's role in protecting communities is subject of Friday (Sept. 24) webcast, broadcast|
|September 20, 2004|
CHAPEL HILL -- The role of health departments in protecting communities and preparing for disease outbreaks and other disasters will be the topic of a 2 p.m. Friday (Sept. 24) program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Public Health in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"First Things First: Defining Local Public Health Practice for Safer, Healthier Communities," an hour-long webcast and satellite broadcast, is part of the Public Health Grand Rounds series. The program will be broadcast from the Mayes Center in 231 Rosenau Hall on the UNC campus, and seating is available for the public.
More than 345 sites in 49 states have registered to view the free program via satellite. Registration and other details are available at http://www.PublicHealthGrandRounds.unc.edu. Questions may be submitted at interactive satellite conference sites, by fax or online. Continuing education credit will be offered based on one hour of instruction.
This program, the 20th in the Public Health Grand Rounds series, will feature a case study of a district health department based in Crete, Neb., working to create a local public health agency.
Friday's broadcast also seeks to engage the public health community in the National Association of County and City Health Officials' effort to develop an operational definition of local public health agencies. The definition is expected to provide the framework needed to secure funding and leverage resources needed for a consistent, robust governmental public health presence at the local level.
"This is must-see viewing for all of us in the public health system - community partners, direct-care physicians and hospital leadership, and those in official health agencies," said case presenter Dr. Hugh Tilson, clinical professor of epidemiology and health policy at UNC's School of Public Health.
"While the story is the dramatic creation of a new public health system for Nebraska, the message is powerful for all of those committed to continuous improvement and 're-inventing' public health for prepared and protected health for America," he added.
Community health departments have far-reaching responsibilities, and those responsibilities have changed since Sept. 11, 2001, said guest panelist George Bond, director of the Buncombe County Health Department in Asheville, N.C.
"During Hurricane Frances, in one 24-hour period public health officials had to visit 569 restaurants and close 309 of them in the Asheville area because of lack of water," he said, referencing the recent storm - the first of two to strike his region so far this month.
"Food protection is an old public health responsibility. But next week, we could be responding to a round of anthrax letters, placing people in quarantine during a SARS outbreak or responding to a smallpox attack. These are new responsibilities. Never before has it been more important for us to redefine the role of the local health department. We touch the lives of every person in our community every single day."
Joining Tilson and Bond on the panel are Steven Boedigheimer, acting deputy director of the CDC's Public Health Practice Program Office; and Carol Moehrle, director of the North Central District Health Department in Lewiston, Idaho. The panel will be moderated by Dr. William L. Roper, dean of UNC's School of Medicine, chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System and UNC's vice chancellor for medical affairs.
Previous Public Health Grand Rounds topics have included bioterrorism, asthma, autism, genetics, breast cancer screening, disaster preparedness, West Nile virus, SARS, obesity, urban sprawl, tobacco prevention and food safety. Past editions of the program may be viewed at http://www.PublicHealthGrandRounds.unc.edu.
Public Health Grand Rounds is a program of the N.C. Institute for Public Health. The institute links UNC's School of Public Health with those working directly in public health, offering numerous training programs and conferences, and providing consulting services to local health departments and other health organizations.
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