Case studies help develop real-world understanding of problems and solutions. NEHA appreciates its members and partners for sharing their stories.
Implementing a Software System in Northern Michigan
Location: Alpena, Michigan Interviewee: Scott Smith, Environmental Health Director Health Department: District Health Department Number 4 Published: August 2018
District Health Department Number 4 is a four-county jurisdiction in Michigan with offices in Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency, and Presque Isle. The department serves a population of approximately 76,000 people over a geographic area of 2,600 square miles that is mostly rural. Scott Smith is the environmental health director of the department and has been in his role for over 25 years. About a year ago, Smith’s division implemented a software system to begin tracking permits, inspections, and employee time. Since then, they have been working to better understand their new software system and its potential uses.
A Data Analytics Journey at the Los Angeles County Department of Environmental Health
Location: Los Angeles, California Interviewee: Stuart Rekart, Principal Information Systems Analyst Health Department: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Published: August 2018
The Los Angeles (LA) County Department of Public Health serves over 10 million people and its Environmental Health Department employs around 800 people. LA County’s Department of Environmental Health receives a lot of public data requests and many of its data-related activities are driven by the public, as well as by media requests. The department has implemented an open data portal and is in the process of piloting data dashboards for the public. The goal is to operationalize data analytics to be a part of regular business operations and to develop the department’s “analytical maturity” as described in the SAS Analytics Maturity Model (Figure 1).
CHAT Webinar Series - Communications in Environmental Health and Tracking
When: October 2018 - February 2019
In partnership with CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, NEHA has created the Communication in Environmental Health and Tracking (CHAT) Webinar Series. This four-part webinar series explored different communication and outreach strategies to facilitate a tracking program's engagement with traditional and non-traditional partners, impact policy and work effectively across divisions.
1. Communication Tools and Strategies for Tracking Programs to Engage with Local Health Departments – Wisconsin’s Use of Mini-Grant Program
October 23, 2018
The first installment in the CHAT Webinar Series explored communication tools and strategies for tracking programs to engage with local health departments and traditional partners. The webinar featured Wisconsin Tracking Program and their use of mini-grant programs to further engagement with local health departments. Jenni Camponeschi and Christy Vogt provided a step-by-step overview of their communication strategy and insight into how to build trust through transparent communication.
Jennifer Camponeschi has an MS degree in Population Health from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has worked in public health for nearly 17 years. Jenny is currently the program manager for the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and has been in this role for three years. Prior to this, Jenny was an epidemiologist with the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for over 11 years.
Christy Vogt is the Communications and Education Coordinator for the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The Tracking Program is a resource for environmental public health data on Wisconsin communities. Christy’s past public health experiences include teaching community health courses, developing syndromic surveillance systems, and writing community health assessments. Christy is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a BS degree in Health Science from Truman State University and an MPH degree from UW-Madison.
Listed below are the application materials referenced in the webinar:
2. Communication Tools and Strategies for Tracking Programs for Working Across Divisions: Vermont's Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water Pilot Project
December 12, 2018
The second installment explored communication tools and strategies for tracking programs to working across divisions. The webinar featured Vermont Tracking Program and their work on Lead in School Drinking Water Pilot Project. Michelle Thompson, Amelia Ray, and David Grass provided a detailed overview of their communication strategy and insight into how to best engage with partners across divisions.
David Grass, PhD, is the Environmental Health Surveillance Chief at the Vermont Department of Health. David earned his PhD in climate studies, atmospheric science, and environmental health at Columbia University. He oversees the Environmental Public Health Tracking, Climate and Health, Radon Indoor Air, and Envision School Environmental Health programs. He has played an important role in managing the data collected during the Health Department’s lead in school drinking water pilot last year.
Amelia Ray is the Information Director for the Environmental Health Division at the Vermont Department of Health. She has worked with the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program on program marketing and outreach for the past four years, including the lead in school drinking water pilot. Amelia has an MA in Environmental Studies from Prescott College and a BS in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously, Amelia was the PIO and water conservation program manager for a water district in Southern California.
Michelle Thompson is the program manager for the Envision Program – school environmental health – at the Vermont Department of Health. The Envision Program was created as part of the School Environmental Health Act to address environmental health issues in schools. The lead in school drinking water testing pilot was conducted under the umbrella of the Envision Program. Michelle has an MPH degree in Occupational and Environmental Health from Tulane University.
3. Communication Tools and Strategies for Tracking Programs to Engage with Non-Traditional Partners: Utah Tracking and its Innovative Partnerships
December 17, 2018
The third installment of the CHAT Webinar Series explored the communication tools and strategies for tracking programs to engage with non-traditional partners. For the purpose of this webinar, non-traditional partners were defined as partners besides local health departments. The webinar featured Utah Tracking Program and their innovative partnerships with the Department of Environmental Quality, Logan Environmental Action Force, and Utah Lead Coalition. Rebecca Dick and Corryn Silon provided a detailed overview of their communication strategy and insight into how to best engage with diverse partners such as advocacy groups.
Rebecca Dick is a Health Education Specialist at the Utah Department of Health in their Environmental Public Health Tracking Program to build bridges in the community. Rebecca believes that continued education is the key to breaking down barriers to public health access. Rebecca has partnered with many community members to build coalitions that have been instrumental in updating and strengthening health policies in Utah. Rebecca is a Certified Health Education Specialist who has also been trained through FEMA as a Public Information Officer and is also certified in Social Media Marketing. After completing her BS in Health Education and Promotion, Rebecca went on to graduate from Grand Canyon University with a Master’s in Public Administration.
Corryn Silon is a Health Educator who works with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) in the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program to provide education and knowledge to the community, so they can make informed decisions. Corryn joins the UDOH team with years of experience partnering with diverse organizations to implement policy changes that directly impact the health of communities. Corryn graduated from SUNY Albany with a Master’s in Public Health.
4. Using Environmental Health Tracking Tools and Data to Support Regulatory Change - NYC Tracking and CA Tracking
February 21, 2019
The fourth and final installment of the Communications in Environmental Health and Tracking (CHAT) series explored communication tools and strategies used by tracking grantees to support and promote programs that use tracking data to inform and impact public health policy. The webinar featured speakers from NYC Tracking Program and CA Tracking Program. From NYC Tracking, we had Sarah Johnson and Nancy Jeffrey talk about the NYC Tracking air quality work that have impacted policy changes. From CA Tracking, we had Kelly Torres present on the development of the Water Boundary Tool and how it might inform and impact policy changes.
Nancy Jeffery is the Director of Outreach and Project Management in the Bureau of Environmental Surveillance and Policy at the New York City Health Department. With over 25 years’ experience working in the field of environmental public health, she has conducted numerous environmental and occupational health investigations. Ms. Jeffery has conducted risk communication in response to environmental emergencies, and has created, and overseen the development of educational materials on a wide variety of environmental health topics.
Sarah Johnson is the Executive Director of the Air Quality Program at the Bureau of Environmental Surveillance and Policy at the New York City Health Department. She has worked for over 10 years in the Bureau of Environmental Surveillance and Policy running spatial and statistical analyses to predict air pollution distribution, understand factors driving mosquito and rat inspectional results, examine associations between weather and air pollution exposures and mortality/morbidity, and inform program planning and evaluation. She has been involved in the New York City Community Air Survey since its inception in 2008 and is currently the Executive Director of the Air Quality Program at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She has a Master of Science in Ecology from University of California, Davis and a Master of Public Health from University of California, Berkeley.
Kelly Torres is the Outreach Specialist for California Tracking Program’s Water Boundary Tool. Her UC Davis degree in Nature and Culture enables her to engage with various stakeholders, state agency personnel and local county environmental health specialists to discuss challenges associated with data requirements. As the curator for the Water Boundary Tool, she works closely with the team programmer to identify design enhancements to make the User experience straightforward and intuitive.
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For more information on the CDC Tracking Program, check out the following links:
Creating an environment for successful collection and use of data starts with usable and sustainable software.
RFPs provide a vehicle to communicate your project requirements to vendors who can provide solutions. If the information contained in the RFP doesn’t clearly convey to the vendor what is needed, the resulting product may not meet needs and be expensive to modify.
The resources provided below assist with understanding the language used in RFPs, how to prepare prior to putting together an RFP, and examples of RFPs created by environmental health programs.
The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) conference is the premier event dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of biosurveillance. Every year, the ISDS conference draws approximately 400 professionals from a broad range of disciplines to learn the latest achievements, analytic methods, best practices, conceptual frameworks, and technical innovations in the rapidly evolving field of disease surveillance.
CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is a powerful tool that helps users visualize health and environmental data to better understand, communicate and act on public health issues. Join this webinar to learn how Minnesota and Washington, two states with strong tracking programs, have effectively integrated biomonitoring data into the tracking portal. What are best ways to collect this data, work with the portal and visualize the results? And how did these states work with environmental health system partners to optimize this process?
The Marion County Public Health Department in Indianapolis, IN recently completed a septic system survey of homes to identify issues homeowners may be having with their systems. The information gained from the surveys, as well as septic repair permit data, soil geography, and well log information, were used to conduct analyses to determine the factors associated with septic failures and septic issues in Marion County. Using geographic information system (GIS) technology, areas of Marion County with high risk factors were identified to help drive future public health interventions such as