Inside NHPHA: A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership: Team Up, Take Action 2020 a Virtual Success

written by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Program Assistant

Before we dive into our Team Up, Take Action (TUTA) recap, we have a quick note for our members: With the retirement of our Executive Director (ED), Joan Ascheim, the search for a new ED continues. In the meantime, staff and executive board members are stepping in to keep NHPHA running as usual.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, the TUTA 2020 planning and programming teams, the NHPHA staff, and the Event Eye staff, our fifth annual Team Up, Take Action conference, this year titled "The Impact of COVID-19 on NH and VT: Forging New Partnerships to Improve Health Equity," was a great success, drawing over 200 participants. The conference, which was presented by NHPHA, the Vermont Public Health Association, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, was virtual this year. Held the mornings of November 10, 17, and 19, each day included a keynote, a panel, and the choice of two breakout sessions that participants could attend. Day 1, focused on the theme of health equity during COVID-19, featured keynote Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, Dean and Robert A. Knox professor at Boston University School of Public Health. The day 1 panel, titled “Health Haves and Have Nots in a Time of COVID-19,” was presented by panelists Mark Levine, MD, Vermont Commissioner of Health; Bobbie D. Bagley, MS, MPH, RN, CPH, of the City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services; Fay F. Homan, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Community and Family Medicine; and Elizabeth A. Talbot, MD, Infectious Disease and International Health; and moderated by Dottie Morris, PhD, of Keene State College.

Day 1’s first breakout session, titled “Equity in COVID-19 Prevention,” featured Brendan Nyhan, PhD, Professor at Dartmouth College’s Department of Government; Dr. Elizabeth Talbot; Tracy Doland, MS, Vermont Deputy Health Commissioner; and moderator Dr. Matthew Mackwood of Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Day 1’s second breakout session, titled “Equity in Data: Does Data Collection Perpetuate Disparities?” was presented by Kirsten Durzy, MPH, of the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, who also moderated; Andrew Loehrer, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Assistant Professor of the Dartmouth Institute at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine; and Veronica Fialkowski, MPH, Surveillance Epidemiologist at the Vermont Department of Health.

Day 2 focused on the economic impacts of COVID-19 in New Hampshire and Vermont and was headlined by keynote Jessica Santos, PhD, Director of Community Engaged Research at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. Dr. Santos spoke on the theme of “The Link between Health, Wealth, and Equity: The Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on the People of NH and VT” and also moderated the day 2 panel, which was on the same theme and presented by Phil Sletten, Senior Policy Analyst at the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, and Catherine Davis, Executive Vice President at the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce. The first Day 2 breakout session, “Creating Virtual Learning Communities to Support Workplace Health during COVID-19: The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Project ECHO Experience,” was presented by Seddon Savage, MD, MS, and Matthew S. McKenney, Workforce Development Leader at Hypertherm and moderated by Gail Tudor, PhD, Associate Dean of Health Professions at Southern New Hampshire University. The second day 2 breakout session, titled “Creative Community Responses to Employee Childcare Challenges,” featured Rebecca Woitkowski, Esq., Kids Count Policy Coordinator at New Futures, and Aly Richards, CEO at Let’s Grow Kids, and was moderated by Angie M. Raymond Leduc, MBA, CPS, Senior Community Partnership Coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

The final day of TUTA focused on food and housing insecurity during COVID-19 and featured Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Deputy Director and Director for Grants & Research for the Network for Public Health Law, Eastern Region, at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Kerri spoke on “Food and Housing Insecurity in the Wake of COVID-19: Old Problems, New Opportunities?” and moderated the day 3 panel, titled “States Stepping Up to Address Housing and Food Insecurity: NH and VT Approaches during the Pandemic.” The panel was presented by Eileen Groll Liponis, Executive Director at the New Hampshire Food Bank; Ben Frost, Managing Director of Policy & Public Affairs at the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority; Farryl Bertmann, PhD, RD, CD, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences at the University of Vermont; and Tamira Martel, Corporate and Foundations Relationship Manager at the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington, VT. Day 3’s first breakout session, titled “Closer to Home: Local Initiatives to Keep Families in Safe and Secure Housing as the Pandemic Progresses,” was presented by Sarah Wrightsman, Executive Director at the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, and Sandrine Kibuey, Director at the Mobile Home Program/Vermont Tenants, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, and moderated by Ben Frost. Day 3’s second breakout session, “Keeping Food on the Table: Community Collaborations to Meet COVID-19 Food Insecurity Challenges,” featured Lyndsey Haight, Executive Director at Our Neighbors’ Table in Amesbury, MA; Michael Apfelberg, President of the United Way of Greater Nashua; and John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank, and moderated by Chelsey Canavan, MSPH, Senior Community Health Partnership Coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Slides from this year’s conference are now available on the Publications page of our website. Conference recordings will soon be available online; we will post the location on our listserv when they are ready.

On behalf of the TUTA organizers, we at NHPHA want to thank everyone who made this possible!

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