Meeting community health needs through environmental labs
Wednesday, November 6, 2013: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
A small suburban town (which will remain un-named) sits outside a former industrial complex, surrounded by well-documented air, water & soil pollution. You'd think that once the surrounding municipalities decided to go off the aquifer, this small town would as well, but it hasn't. Complaints of illness and problems with the water have led to reassurances from the water bureau that everything is fine; but they won’t release the lab results. The state public health laboratory is willing to do additional testing but the request can’t come from the community, it has to come from the health department.
Too often APHL learns about situations like these in which public health laboratories might have helped answer questions related to community environmental health concerns. Such stories frustrate scientists in our member laboratories, which are equipped with advanced technology and highly trained chemists dedicated to protecting and improving public health. The question soon became ‘how can we better connect these communities with their laboratories?’
In order to better meet community environmental health needs, APHL undertook a year-long strategic assessment process. During the first stage, APHL interviewed community advocates and key leaders to identify trends likely to shape the future of environmental health. During the second stage, APHL shared a summary of the interviews with laboratory leaders, asking what they could do to better address community needs, now and in the future.
APHL published a document that brings together the results of the first two stages, in order to prepare for the third stage, which involved a one-day, in-person strategic forum in September of 2012. The forum convened environmental health leaders and advocates to identify ways the public health system could better utilize the rich capabilities of laboratories to meet environmental health needs in communities across the country. Since the forum, APHL realizes more and more that this is a systems issue.
With participation from attendees, the proposed panel session will inspire dialogue on ways to improve the environmental health system. At the end, we hope to walk away with ideas and volunteers committed to better meeting community health needs through environmental laboratories.
Session Objectives: 1. Describe situations in which community environmental health questions could be addressed through a partnership with public health laboratories.
2. Discuss ideas for better connecting community groups to environmental laboratories.
3. Formulate ways to improve the environmental health system to make it more responsive and accountable to the communities it serves.
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)