See below to stay up to date on what we are doing to strengthen public health practice and promote sound public health policy.
Virginia has the potential to be the healthiest state in the nation, but it has a long way to go. Despite its wealth, Virginia’s life expectancy is lower than most wealthy countries and many wealthy states. Health outcomes also vary drastically throughout the Commonwealth.
Recent health policy debates have focused on access to clinical care. Access to quality, affordable health care is necessary but insufficient. It is social, economic, and environmental factors that have the largest effect on wellbeing. Shifting the debate upstream to focus on Virginia’s public health system is essential for addressing these factors.
In its inaugural report, “Virginia’s Public Health Landscape: A Call to Action,” the Virginia Public Health Association (VPHA) reviews Virginia’s public health landscape and issues a call to action. The report reviews the history of Virginia’s public health system, identifies current issues, and looks forward to the future. Its conclusion is simple: strengthening Virginia’s public health system is necessary to improve health and erase health disparities.
Read the report here.
The Virginia Public Health Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of all Virginians. Founded in 1950, VPHA’s mission is to strengthen public health practice and promote sound public health policy. It is a proud affiliate of the American Public Health Association.
In observation of National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2022, VPHA presents Public Health Workforce: Essential for the Health of all Virginias, a webinar. On April 5th join us to hear from leading experts across the state discuss the public health workforce's role in advancing health equity and improving health outcomes for all Virginians. The webinar is set to take place from 12-1:30 p.m. You can view our flyer here and register for the event here. You do not have to be a VPHA member to attend. We hope to see you there.
Join the mission-driven team at Virginia Health Catalyst as the Community Engagement Manager, leading initiatives that promote the health and well-being of Virginians who face inequities due to systemic racism, discrimination, and other structural barriers. Apply your experience in community-based roles to build and maintain community partnerships through a new community advisory council, and lead grassroots advocacy efforts that support Catalyst’s priorities. Learn more, and apply today: https://vahealthcatalyst.org/job-openings/community-engagement-manager/
The upcoming Appalachian Health Leadership Forum will be held in West Virginia on May 6-7, 2022. The Forum on Thursday, May 6th features national thought leaders on community health improvement, planning, and board governance. The Friday, May 7th sessions focus on effective board governance for boards of directors and executive leaders from hospitals, FQHCs and local public health agencies.
View the Forum flyer here - Appalachian Health Leadership Forum - May6-7, 2022.pdf
You can find more information about the Forum at www.wvruralhealth.org or at www.AppalachianHealthLeadershipForum.org
The Gate Coordinator for the Online MPH Program is an in-person full-time position. The Gate Coordinator will assist the Department of Public and Community Health in meeting various program requirements such as accreditation, mentoring, and community outreach within the Master of Public Health program.
We seek a dynamic individual to assist students through the MPH Gate System. The successful candidate will have at least a bachelor’s (Master preferred) in Public Health or a closely related field. The Online Gate Coordinator serves in a customer-service advisory role in assisting online students by answering a high number of student emails and phone calls in a professional and timely manner. The Online Gate Coordinator will help create and manage the gate courses in Canvas and provide students with feedback on portfolio items, including the competency exam. Lastly, the Gate Coordinator will assist with program-level accreditation and assessment by gathering, analyzing, and reporting data.
To apply, visit the LU Human Resource website at https://jobs.liberty.edu/postings/37634
VPHA completed its first advocacy day on Thursday, January 27th. The advocacy day, held virtually in response to the pandemic, was a big success. VPHA members met with ten state legislators and their staff to discuss VPHA’s 2022 policy priorities and to stress the importance of public health in Virginia.
VPHA’s top priority this legislative session is for the General Assembly to pass SB 192. This bill would allow qualified public health professionals without medical degrees to serve as local health district directors (LHDs). Currently, LHD directors must have a medical degree. This unnecessary requirement has resulted in roughly a third of LHDs not having a permanent director - affecting nearly 20 percent of Virginians.
VPHA members also urged lawmakers to support Budget Amendment Item 304 #6s, which would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for adult dental providers by 30 percent beginning on July 1, 2022. Raising these rates will increase access to dental service for Medicaid enrollees throughout the Commonwealth.
VPHA will hold its first advocacy day at the State Capitol in Richmond the morning of Thursday, January 27th. Members will meet with legislators to discuss VPHA’s 2022 policy priorities and to stress the importance of public health in Virginia.
VPHA’s advocacy has already been successful. Earlier this month, our advocacy efforts were successful in urging the Joint Commission on Health Care to study how local public health departments are structured and financed in Virginia. Commission staff will conduct the study in 2022 and recommend reforms to lawmakers ahead of the 2023 General Assembly session.
However, other priorities remain. VPHA urges legislators to consider removing the requirement that directors of local health districts (LHDs) be physicians and instead allow licensed health care practitioners or public health professionals to serve as directors of LHDs.
VPHA also urges the General Assembly to establish a Health Equity Trust Fund. This fund would finance public health interventions not eligible for support through categorical grants and other restricted funding sources.
Finally, VPHA calls on the General Assembly to establish a workgroup to explore how Virginia can leverage CHIP Health Service Initiatives (HSI) to address public health issues that disproportionately affect low-income children. HSIs allow states to draw down federal dollars to support these initiatives. Virginia historically has left these dollars on the table, notwithstanding a recent HSI to support the Commonwealth’s poison control centers.
Check out our “Upcoming Events” page for information on how you can participate in VPHA’s advocacy day!
Last Thursday, legislators on Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care voted to study how local public health departments are structured and financed. Commission staff will conduct the study in 2022 and recommend reforms to lawmakers ahead of the 2023 General Assembly session.
VPHA vigorously advocated for this study, noting that the Commission has never comprehensively studied this issue. Moreover, a VPHA analysis found that localities’ local health department budgets vary widely, with spending under $10 per person in some localities and over $100 per person in others.
While it is too early to tell what staff will focus on, this study should help policymakers:
The Virginia Public Health Association applauds Governor Northam and General Assembly leaders for proposing substantial investments in Virginia’s public health. These funds - made available by the American Rescue Plan - will improve the health of all Virginians.
The proposed budget makes significant investments toward universal broadband, clean water, food access, mental health, lead remediation, and improved ventilation in Virginia’s public schools. It also includes funds to rebuild Virginia’s public health system through proposed investments in electronic health records, building upgrades, and network infrastructure. These proposals will help prevent disease, improve well-being, and address underlying social determinants of health.
While VPHA is encouraged by this proposal, it urges lawmakers to not lose sight of existing public health crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include record drug overdose deaths, growing numbers of adults and children struggling with mental health illness, enduring poverty, and disparities in our health care system brought about by years long systematic racism. Lawmakers have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to address these critical issues during the special session and beyond.
EDF’s Health program is searching for Director of Chemical Policy. This is a new position focused our efforts to ensure that TSCA implementation serves to expand protections from toxic chemicals especially for individuals and communities at the greatest risk from workers to frontline communities. We have prioritized this position as Richard Denison will begin to transition to a new role at EDF, which will be more advisory in nature.
Sarah Vogel (she/her)Sr. Vice President, Health
Environmental Defense Fund1875 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC, 20009T 202-572-3355
Twitter: @EDFHealth @EDFCleanAir
VPHA • Richmond, Virginia