May 2022 Inside NHPHA

by Ashley Ithal, NHPHA Board President

Springtime in New Hampshire is exciting and a little unpredictable. In any given week, winter seems to suddenly take its exit and we see bright blue sunny skies, muddy roads, and the first signs of crocuses and forsythia blossoms. Within 24 hours, the grey skies return, and snowflakes cover the flowers. And then the next day…you guessed it…sunshine! Having lived in New Hampshire for 20 years, I know that this cycle leads to another glorious summer in the Granite State.
May for NHPHA is much like spring in New Hampshire, an annual transitioning time. In May, we welcome new board officers and directors. Our incredible staff and volunteers jump into hyperdrive (after pulling off another successful Annual Meeting) to onboard and integrate the group so that we can collectively continue to meet our mission and serve you - our members. In the next few months, you’ll see a flurry of activity from us; policy alerts will keep finding your inbox and we will be hosting some great events. As Hanan mentioned in our April newsletter, this is our 30th year of service, a time to celebrate, and a time to hear from you about what you’d like to see from NHPHA this year and in the future. Please reach out to us – we want to hear from you!

NHPHA Member Spotlight: Lisa Bujno

Each month, the NHPHA Newsletter does a spotlight on an NHPHA member. For the May issue, we are honored to feature the NHPHA Past Board President and the President Award recipient, Ms. Lisa Bujno.

What is your current role/job title, and where?

I am currently the Assistant Medical Director and Risk Manager at Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with five locations in northern Grafton County. 

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Food and Nuitrition Support System in NH

by Laura Milliken, Executive Director, NH Hunger Solutions

At NH Hunger Solutions, we see our system of food and nutrition supports (such as SNAP, WIC, school, and summer meals) as a power grid that moves healthy food to children and families. In New Hampshire, the grid is well developed in some areas and patchy or non-existent in others.  A hunger-free New Hampshire will require making sure all communities are plugged into the grid so that everyone eligible for food and nutrition support can benefit from it. 

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Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) Op-Ed

by Emma Sevigny, Children's Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator at New Futures

Our kids are in crisis. 

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Lowering the Cost of Insulin Will be Life-Saving

by Jayme Simoes, NHPHA Communications Committee Member, President of Louis Karno & Company Communications, LLC

For too long, too many people in New Hampshire and across the country have had to make the difficult choice between affording their life-saving medications or paying for rent, food or other essentials. Fortunately, Congress is taking steps to lower the cost for one especially costly medication with the Affordable Insulin Now Act.

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Understanding the History of Vaccine Hesitancy and Our Role in Strengthening Vaccine Confidence

by Ellen Smith Ahern, MSW, Immunization Program Coordinator

One of the most concerning impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for the public health community is the rise of vaccine hesitancy, made starkly visible by the array of anti-vaccine bills currently proposed in the NH State Legislature.  Within a global, historical context, vaccine hesitancy is not new, nor are the vaccine-related impacts that vulnerable communities disproportionately experience.  Research conducted by Karen Akuffo, Masters candidate in Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in conjunction with NHPHA and Dr.’s Karla Armenti and Liu Yang at the NH Occupational Health Surveillance Program, UNH, follows vaccine hesitancy back nearly 200 years, when critics of the smallpox vaccine in Europe and the United States questioned its scientific validity and the policies enacted to mandate vaccination.  While the means of communication and collaboration for vaccine critics have since evolved, the themes remain consistent: despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, vaccines are considered more dangerous than the illnesses they are designed to prevent, and vaccine mandates in schools and workplaces infringe on personal liberty.  

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April 2022 Inside NHPHA

Inside NHPHA

A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership


Message from the NHPHA Executive Director

I am honored and excited to join the New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA). Our association has a strong foundation, an impressive list of achievements, a committed board of directors, and a dedicated staff. 

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NHPHA Board Member Spotlight: Melissa Ray

Interview by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Each month we sit down with an NHPHA board member or a member of the association to chat. For this month's feature, we asked NHPHA board member Melissa Ray to answer some questions for us. If you have an idea for someone, we should spotlight, email Jess Barnett at [email protected]

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High-Speed Internet Essential to Telehealth Services

by Nicholas Coates, Town Administrator for Town of Bristol, NH

During the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us had to find new ways to provide people with the services they needed. Schools transitioned to online classes, thousands of workers became remote overnight, and outdoor seating at restaurants and venues changed what going out looked like. We also saw medical providers, such as Mid-State Health Center in Bristol and Plymouth, offer more telehealth visits to continue providing the great community care they offer while keeping people safe.

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Call for Public Health and Communications Volunteers: NHPHA Communications Committee Needs You!

Call for Public Health and Communications Volunteers:
NHPHA Communications Committee Needs You!

The NHPHA Communications Committee is seeking applications for new co-chairs due to the departure of the current co-chairs, Jess Barnett and Jayme Simões. Jess and Jayme devoted their time, expertise, and knowledge to advancing our mission. Their collective efforts yielded an excellent outcome for the association and its membership.

The Communications Committee adds value to the association membership by providing information to expand professional knowledge and provide updates through our newsletter. The committee meets once a month.

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A Look at one year of the American Rescue Plan

by Jayme H. Simões, President, Louis Karno & Company Communications, LLC

Only a year ago, Americans were grappling with the loss of loved ones, and hospitals were at maximum capacity with COVID-19 patients. Thousands of workers were laid off, which created severe economic hardships, and millions of students had to transition to virtual learning. But here in New Hampshire, our congressional delegation voted for the help we needed to get back on our feet and get our economy back to work. 

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February NHPHA Member Spotlight: Tiffany Dodier

Compiled and edited by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Tiffany Dodier
Engagement Director at NH Hunger Solutions

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New Hampshire Housing Policy Update February 2022

by Tom DeRosa, Engagement & Communications Manager for Housing Action NH

It has been a busy time in Concord concerning housing policy. For the first time a New Hampshire Housing Caucus has been established within the state legislature. This came about as a recommendation from the Council on Housing Stability’s Strategic Plan, to educate and inform lawmakers about the necessary steps to increase housing availability and stability for New Hampshire residents. The bicameral, bipartisan caucus is composed of sixteen State Senators and Representatives from a diverse range of geographic areas, Committees, and demographics. 

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Building a SPINE (State Plan to Improve Nutrition Equity) for NH

by Jessica Gorhan, Deputy Director, NH Hunger Solutions

NH Hunger Solutions in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health Services Chronic Disease Group is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to create a State Plan to Improve Nutrition  Equity(SPINE). We will be working with Dr. Trinidad Tellez to make equity the center of our work. There are two priorities to the grant. The 1st priority is to create the SPINE and the 2nd priority is to work with 2 health care organizations and multiple local food access coalitions around the state to increase Social Determinants of Health Screening. In addition to expanding the Social Determinants of Health Screenings the grant will provide the participating health care organizations and local food access coalitions with training in the following: being culturally effective, Unite Us referral software, and understanding enrollment and participation in federal nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and School Meals. These two priorities will help us to address the root cause issues of hunger while aligning the state around food insecurity to work on upstream solutions. 

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Opinion: Terry Wilcox accused AARP of not working to lower drug costs

by Jayme Simoes, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair, President of Louis Karno & Company Communications, LLC

Terry Wilcox accused AARP of not working to lower drug costs. The group Wilcox heads is funded by major Big Pharma companies such as Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson, and Baxter according to its website. Wilcox criticizes AARP’s support of the Build Back Better bill’s rule that would allow the government to place price controls on prescription drugs. But he wrongly argues that consumers would not benefit from removing big drug companies' ability to price drugs as they like. He writes: the price caps would slash drug company revenue, dismantling their business model in one fell swoop.

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A Look Back: VaxWell NH in 2021

by Ellen Smith Ahern, Immunization Program Coordinator

This has been a busy year for the fledgling immunization coalition, VaxWell NH. Created in 2021 as an initiative of NHPHA, VaxWell now has nearly 40 members, including providers in community clinics, nurses in public schools, advocates at the state level, and public health educators and researchers. Our mission is to reduce vaccine-preventable disease by increasing immunization rates statewide. While we support Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations and the work of partner organizations focused on pandemic response in New Hampshire, VaxWell is committed to a broad array of vaccine-related issues, from the Live HPV Free Coalition to reduce cervical cancer to seasonal campaigns for flu vaccine participation across the lifespan. 

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January NHPHA Board Member Spotlight: Ashley Ithal

Compiled and edited by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Each month, the NHPHA e-newsletter does a spotlight on an NHPHA member or board member. For this month’s feature, we asked NHPHA board member Ashley Ithal to answer some questions for us. If you have an idea for an upcoming spotlight, please email Jess at [email protected]

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The Cost of Half-Measures During the Pandemic

by Jayme Simoes, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair, President of Louis Karno & Company Communications, LLC

When COVID-19 first hit, a European politician framed the issue in a clear-headed way. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would be a “tsunami” and added that “there are no buoys that can save us from a tsunami.” In the face of a massive wall of water, half-measures are meaningless.

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The Surge in COVID-19 and Vaccine Mandates

by Lisabritt Solsky, NHPHA Membership Committee Co-Chair, Chief Growth Officer for Easter Seals

The latest COVID-19 variant of concern is Omicron. A month ago, I could not go that high in the Greek alphabet without the help of the internet. Omicron was first detected in South Africa, where it was responsible for a major surge in cases. This variant, the most contagious strain of COVID-19 yet, is now on the rise in the U.S. Omicron is spreading while we are still managing the Delta surge, which has been especially impactful in New Hampshire during the past month. 

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January Is National Radon Action Month

by Lynne Clement, MBA, NH Radon Program, Division of Public Health Services, DHHS

In recognition of National Radon Action Month, the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) encourages residents to test their homes and private wells for radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. In the Granite State, 30 percent of homes have reported elevated levels of this naturally occurring gas in their indoor air. 

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