Dr. Jewell Mullen, Associate Dean for Health Equity in the Office of Health Equity at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, offers her assessment of the work that still needs to be done to address Alzheimer’s and related concerns;...
Dr. Jewell Mullen, Associate Dean for Health Equity in the Office of Health Equity at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, offers her assessment of the work that still needs to be done to address Alzheimer’s and related concerns; Dr. Stephen Flores, who leads the vaccine confidence and demand work within the Immunization Services Division of the National Center of Immunization and Respiratory Disease with the CDC, explains how to drive organizational and community change; a new ASTHO blog article explains how several states are using paid family and medical leave policies as tools to reduce disparities; and an ASTHO brief examines certification for community health workers as a way to encourage more people to enter the field.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.
Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
As I think about where we've come over the past 10 years, I can see progress on many fronts as we look at the ways in which the nation and public health are starting to approach Alzheimer's disease and brain health. It's encouraging to me.
Dr. Jewell Mullen, an ASTHO alum and recognized expert on aging and mental health, thinking about the past and offers her assessment of the work that still needs to be done to address Alzheimer's and related concerns.
Alzheimer's disease and brain health should be thought of as conditions that are linked to the same risk factors that we think of for heart disease and stroke and a number of other conditions; so supporting policies around minimizing the impacts of chronic disease, it's really important. There are multiple impacts that that can have on Alzheimer's and disparities.
But we're learning more and more about the impact of hearing loss on dementia and cognitive decline, so getting coverage for hearing aids—Medicare coverage—could go a long way.
As we also remember that people want to live at home as long as they can, so supporting local public health and community organizations to assure that communities can be age- and dementia-friendly is really key.
Mullen speaking with us in recognition of June as Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, she says there's a lot that public health can do to make a difference.
As we continue our surveillance reporting of data, helping people understand the burden of disease of Alzheimer's at the same time that we understand the burden of the risk factors that are associated with it. Public health also can play a stronger role in educating communities, everyday people and care providers as we work to get more people screened and bringing forward their concerns about memory loss so that primary care docs actually screen them and talk to them. And to assure that we address stigma, which we understand is a big issue since Alzheimer's disease ranks alongside cancer and heart disease as the conditions that people most fear.
Learn more about Alzheimer's and brain health using the link in the show notes.
If you want to drive change in your community, Dr. Stephen Flores says you have to start with the basics—listening and patience.
Flores is with the CDC's Immunization Services Division. He spent time recently with a group of public health professionals hosted by ASTHO and the National Public Health Information Coalition. The topic: how to drive organizational and community change.
You can't go out into a community on Monday, stay there through Friday, and then next Monday they now have trust and we're done. You know, it's a long-term engagement.
Flores says it takes time to build partnerships that can help public health teams to make an impact, but he says, there's no other way to achieve the trust needed to get the job done.
I think you could get probably pretty far pretty quickly to get a lay of the land by actually going to community events, reaching out to identifying community leaders, having conversations, and really being very transparent and saying, you know, "We know there's a need here from our perspective. We really want to hear from you how you see that and what drives this community. What are the important things? And you know, what do you see? What are you hearing?" Then we'd like to have a conversation about like, "How can the health department, for example, really serve you better?"
Also today, states are thinking about paid family and medical leave policies as tools to reduce disparities, improve parent and child health, and reduce COVID-19 spread. A new ASTHO blog article explores legislation in several states, including steps taken by some during the pandemic. You can read the article using the link in the show notes.
Finally this morning, a new ASTHO brief examined certification for community health workers as a way to encourage more people to enter the field. An interactive map provides a look at the status of certification programs around the U.S. The brief also outlines options for creating a program. You can find a link to the article in the show notes.
That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.
I'm Robert Johnson. You are listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.