150: Workforce - Public Health Week

Dr. Laura Parajon, New Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Health, reacts to the findings of the new PH WINS survey and tells us how we can begin to support and rebuild frontline teams; Dr. Jose Montero, Director of the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and...


Dr. Laura Parajon, New Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Health, reacts to the findings of the new PH WINS survey and tells us how we can begin to support and rebuild frontline teams; Dr. Jose Montero, Director of the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support at the CDC, says the new Pathways to Population Health Equity Framework is an adaptation of one used in health care and business; ASTHO reports on its work to develop strategies states and territories can follow to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in a new article published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice; and leaders in the Pacific Islands describe how they have held the COVID-19 virus at bay the last two years.

APHA Webpage: National Public Health Week

ASTHO Blog Article: ASTHO Policy Watch 2022 – Public Health Workforce

ASTHO Webinar: Pathways to Population Health Equity

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: Supporting Success – ASTHO’s Strategies for Reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity

ASTHO Podcast: COVID-19 in the Pacific – What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday April 5th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

Our recognition of National Public Health Week continues today. The topic this morning is the public health workforce. In our morning conversation, Dr. Laura Parajon, deputy secretary of health in New Mexico, reacts to the findings of the new PH WINS survey and tells us how we can begin to support and rebuild frontline teams.

Last week, we reported on the ASTHO-de Beaumont survey that talked about more than half of all public health workers believing they've had at least one symptom of PTSD during the pandemic. What does that tell you about the state of the public health workforce today?

DR. LAURA PARAJON:

Yeah, I mean, when I saw that, I think when myself and many other colleagues saw that it was so heartbreaking to see that, to know that one in every two of your colleagues are suffering from symptoms of PTSD.

I think it's not surprising given what we've all been through in the past two years. Our workforce is just so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. And I think what it tells us is that we are at a breaking point and we do have to do something about this.

JOHNSON:

What do you think we ought to be doing right now in response to these concerns?

PARAJON:

Yeah, I think, you know, ever since this report came out—and also the MMWR report came out several months before this—just shows how much we need to keep on listening more to our workforce. I think we're so busy every day dealing with the COVID pandemic, we do need to return and think about how we're developing a trauma-informed workforce.

We've been so traumatized, right, and more than two years of this kind of ongoing stress really does affect your resilience. So, like maybe a change or a stressor that normally could have been handled by your team before the pandemic now is actually just leading to burnout or people just leaving the workforce. So, I think as leaders, we just really need to step up and do this, right?

I think public health seeks to build the conditions that everyone can be healthy in our society, and I think we need to do the same thing for our workplace. We need to look at, internally, how are we building those conditions to make things better for our workplace?

JOHNSON:

Tell us how you're trying to help the public health workforce there in New Mexico.

PARAJON:

Yeah, actually we were doing a lot in our team. We have a group here in our department of health comprised of different divisions in our department, and we're working on building our workforce back up again. And one of the things that we're doing, really most importantly, is trying to listen to our workforce. Like I had shared, I think the process of listening and then actually trying to do things to actually change the work environment.

One of the things we've done is a high five program where you can nominate someone from your division and they can get some administrative time leave. We've been doing a lot of recognition of our staff. We have weekly all-staff meetings, and we recently did a whole survey that we shared back with our whole team at the department of health—we have almost 3000 people that work in our department. So, we shared that back with them. And then, now we're in the process of doing all the things that people have addressed that looked very much like PH WINS—you know, the same things that came out in that.

And I think one of the cool things is that in that report, they said nine out of 10 people are still determined to help their communities, right, and give their best effort every day. That showed up in our survey and also in the PH WINS survey. And so, building off of that—like we do need to, you know, support people because they do want to support their communities and public health in general.

JOHNSON:

Tomorrow, Dr. Joseph Kanter from Louisiana is here to discuss the importance of collaboration and resilience: two concepts critical to effective public health practice.

 

Health equity is the focus of the CDC's Pathways to Population Health Equity framework set to publish this week. Dr. Jose Montero says the framework is an adaptation of one used in healthcare and business.

DR. JOSE MONTERO:

So, Pathways to Population Health Equity is a health equity and population health planning and implementation framework that is designed to support those public health leaders to strategically really take action to advance equitable health and wellbeing on the short, on the medium, and in the long term. It has a huge advantage is that this framework comes with the tools that will help us as leaders address equity in all the dimensions of people, places, and systems, which is another important piece of this.

JOHNSON:

ASTHO will host a webinar on the framework tomorrow, April 6th, at 1:00 PM Eastern time. You can sign up using the link in the show notes.

 

Also ASTHO's work to develop strategy states and territories can follow to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity is reported in a new article published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. You can read more using the link in the show notes.

 

Finally, three U.S. territories and three Freely Associated States, all part of the affiliated Pacific islands, have worked hard the last two years to keep COVID-19 out of their island jurisdictions. Find out how they did it on a new episode of the Public Health Review podcast. You can listen anywhere you stream audio or on the ASTHO website, astho.org/communications/podcast.

 

Before we go, we want to remind you to leave us a rating and a review. Also, if you follow the show, you'll never miss a single report. You can do all of this on the channel you're listening to right now.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We are back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Laura Parajon MD MPH

Deputy Cabinet Secretary of Health, New Mexico Department of Health

Jose Montero MD MHCDS

Director, Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, CDC