NHPHA Public Health Stories: What does public health mean to you?
April 2012 Member Spotlight - Laura Davie, NHPHA Vice President
How long have you/your organization been doing public health work?
Since 2005, I have worked at the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice (NHIHPP) as a Project Director. NHIHPP was formed in 2001 and for the past 11 years, we have been working to align the medical and public health systems. Prior to this, I worked as a physical therapy assistant for many years before returning to college and transitioning to public health work. While I enjoyed physical therapy and working with individuals one-on-one, the system barriers to good care and the lack of alignment with the social determinants of health in the medical system left me feelingWhile my work as a physical therapist was important, it was bumping up against larger system issues that need to be addressed.
How did you/your organization first get involved with NHPHA? With public health work?
The Director of NHIHPP, Ned Helms, has always supported the work of NHPHA and looks for opportunities to leverage and align the work of both organizations. Staff at NHIHPP have served at various times on the NHPHA board and committees. I joined NHPHA in 2005 and served on the Policy Committee up until 2012. In 2011, I was elected to the NHPHA Board of Directors and in 2012 become the Board Vice-President. Currently in the role of Vice-President I oversee NHPHA’s Strategic Intention I- “NHPHA will support public health members and partners”. In this capacity, I work with the Finance, Membership, Human Resource, and Program Planning Committees. NHPHA also is the fiscal agent for the Oral Health Collation so I serve as the NHPHA representative on the OHC Steering Committee.
What are 2 things you/your organization would tell a person in NH wanting to know more about how public health benefits them locally?
1. The increased awareness of the public health concept of “livable communities” not only applies to the obesity epidemic which has spurred the awareness, it also aligns with making communities livable for our older adults to age in place. Public health initiatives are often difficult to quantify because they never just touch on.
2. Public health data is an integral piece of a comprehensive approach to local health. From the proper allocation of public dollars and resources to matching public health data with medical system data to improve systems are important benefits of the work.
What do you/does your organization like the most about the work that you do?
I enjoy the breath of projects myself and my colleagues at NHIHPP work on. It seems to grow every day always inspiring me to learn and expand my thinking. I also really like how my work is based on partnering with community organizations and committed partners on creating person-centered systems of care for older adults. There are so many people doing thoughtful and meaningful work in public health. They inspire me to think critically on breaking down the system barriers and more our systems of health forward.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself or your organization?
In my 7 years with NHIHPP, my work has included staffing the Citizens Health Initiative and work across the long term care system. In 2011 we launched the Center on Aging and Community Living (www.agingandcommunityliving.org) which aligns the work of both NHIHPP and the Institute on Disability. Our vision- All New Hampshire residents have access to person-centered options to allow them to live and age in the communities of their choice. Our projects provide ongoing support to the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services and other partners in the Aging Network by designing, implementing, and evaluating systems change initiatives. These range from person-centered approaches, caregiver support, training direct care workforce, and care transitions.