DCU Center, Worcester, MA | Thursday, November 15
First Line of Defense: Strengthening The Local Public Health System in Massachusetts
Local Public Health Departments (LPHD) provide the core protections that we all rely on to stay safe and healthy. These protections are numerous and varied – including food and water safety, infectious disease prevention and control, tobacco and lead compliance, sanitary and safe housing and buildings, and much more. While this work is essential to protecting the health of the public, LPHDs face significant challenges, especially due to Massachusetts’ decentralized system. This session will explore the innovative approaches that LPHDs are taking to face these challenges in rural and urban communities throughout Massachusetts. This session will also look to the work being done by the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health to assess the current system and identify ways to move forward, as well as illustrate how some LPHDs are already expanding their scope beyond traditional public health to address the social determinants of health and promote health equity.
Karyn Clark, City of Worcester Division of Public Health
Soloe Dennis, City of Springfield Health and Human Services
Phoebe Walker, Franklin Regional Council of Governments
Melanie O’Malley, Massachusetts Public Health Association, facilitator
Hospitals Investing in Communities: Effective Strategies to Represent Community Needs
Non-profit hospitals in Massachusetts have obligations to provide a community benefit to their surrounding communities. Come to learn about updates to the Attorney General and Department of Public Health frameworks that guide and regulate hospital community benefits (including the Determination of Need program). These recent updates promote investments to address social determinants of health and increase expectations for strong community engagement. Hear from a hospital leader and a community leader, who will discuss their strategies to work effectively with the community to address community needs and the challenges they encounter along the way.
Monica Lowell, UMass Memorial Health Care
Jamie Berberena, Southcoast Community Health Workers’ Collaborative
Kristina Kimani, Massachusetts Public Health Association
Joining Forces for Environmental Justice
Environmental justice strives for the equitable distribution of environmental risks and benefits while also demanding fair and meaningful participation in environmental decision-making. Many environmental justice efforts have focused on reducing the burden of toxic exposures in low-income communities and communities of color. Environmental justice also encompasses the fight for fair access to public transit, healthy food, and affordable housing without displacement. This session will feature leaders of Massachusetts grassroots environmental justice organizations, who will share their priorities, key opportunities and challenges in the current political environment, and ways that public health can more strongly partner with and support grassroots environmental justice efforts.
Elena Letona, Neighbor to Neighbor
María Belén Power, GreenRoots
Carlene Pavlos, Massachusetts Public Health Association, facilitator
Public Health & Immigrant Rights
From the Berkshires to the Cape & Islands, new generations of immigrants in Massachusetts help make stronger and more vibrant communities. However, recent changes at the federal level threaten the rights and well-being of recent immigrants in Massachusetts, while also undermining public health efforts. From the latest developments of the public charge ruling to continued uncertainty with Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections, it is an increasingly stressful environment for residents seeking US citizenship. The fear of accessing basic services is increasing, resulting in more untreated health conditions and unreported crimes. In this session, hear how organizations and informal networks in Massachusetts are taking action at the local, state, and national levels to strengthen immigrant rights and public health, and how you can help.
Daniel Hyman, JD, MLPB
Dr. Milagros Abreu, MD, MPH, Latino Health Insurance Program
Liza Ryan, Massachusetts Immigrants & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
Andrea Freeman; Massachusetts Public Health Association, facilitator
Sexual and Reproductive Health: Claiming our Autonomy
Health equity, the ability to achieve the highest level of health, requires that everyone have access to the information, resources, and care they need to maintain sexual and reproductive health and the legal rights needed to maintain body autonomy. Misogyny, gender and sexuality oppression, racism, and class oppression create inequities and inform Federal and State policies that restrict, deny, or fail to address these necessities, exacerbating health inequities and creating a need for comprehensive policy reform. While some issues will be decided at the Federal level, there are clear steps we can take to move forward in Massachusetts, such as ensuring comprehensive sexual education curricula in public schools, defending the rights of the Massachusetts LGBTQ community, and supporting reproductive freedom for all. This session will explore these opportunities for action from the perspectives of the organizational leaders in the field.
Gena Frank, NARAL
Corey Prachniak-Rincón, Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth
Jodie Silverman, Massachusetts Public Health Association, facilitator
The Massachusetts Housing Crisis: How Communities are Responding
Massachusetts is facing a housing crisis that has major health equity implications. Access to safe, quality, and affordable homes is increasingly out of the reach of far too many Massachusetts residents, exacerbating health inequities in chronic disease, infectious disease, and mental health outcomes (among others). Housing costs make it difficult for families to afford basic necessities of life, such as healthy food and heat, that families need to be healthy. No part of the state is immune, but this crisis impacts Massachusetts regions and community types differently. This session will feature housing leaders from different regions of Massachusetts, who will share information about how the housing crisis is impacting their communities, the major strategies they’re using to combat it, and opportunities for people to get involved to ensure everyone has a safe place to call home.
Nigel D. Greaves, Office of Housing, City of Springfield
Kathy Brown, Boston Tenant Coalition
Jennifer van Campen, MetroWest Collaborative Development
Yun-Ju Choi, Coalition for a Better Acre (Lowell)
Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, facilitator