PHC Approves New Strategic Plan

The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley serves 13 communities in New Hampshire and 22 communities in VermontIn November 2021, the Public Health Council approved a new PHC Strategic Plan to guide our organization between 2022 and 2025. As we move into 2022, the Board and Staff are working hard to implement the plan and look for new ways to engage our many partners as we grow to meet their needs. Please read on to learn more about our goals and strategies. Please reach out to Alice Ely at alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org if you are interested in supporting our organization my joining our Board of Directors, becoming involved in priority work or special projects, and providing financial support.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley (PHC) is a regional public health coalition that brings together a diverse group of stakeholders (e.g. health care providers, community-based organizations, municipalities, human service agencies, businesses) to identify and address issues in Upper Valley cities and towns through multi-sector engagement and collaboration. The PHC serves the 12 municipalities of New Hampshire’s Upper Valley Regional Public Health Network and 22 Vermont municipalities, as shown in the map above.

Every few years the PHC looks internally to assess operations and programming to ensure alignment with partner needs within the current public health landscape. While the COVID-19 pandemic required a shift in strategy to meet the immediate needs of neighbors and partners, it also gave the PHC an opportunity to leverage its strengths and highlight where the coalition provides value to the region.

During summer and fall of 2021, the PHC engaged in a strategic planning process with 60+ coalition members, including PHC leadership, to identify operational priorities and common objectives for the coalition over the next 3-5 years. The PHC used this process to reflect on its value-add and ability to pivot during the pandemic despite limited staff capacity and financial resources.

Out of this planning process came four strategic goals to help direct the PHC over the next 3-5 years:

Goal 1:  Increase the capacity of PHC staff to maintain the current level of activities while growing the ability to respond to emerging public health opportunities and partner needs.

Goal 2:  Identify new sources of funding for the PHC to ensure short and long-term sustainability and support its growth among traditional and non-traditional sectors.

Goal 3:  Engage PHC leadership in advancing the work of the organization within the region to increase visibility among peers, identify strategic partners and recruit additional Board members.

Goal 4:  Enhance PHC’s visibility and influence in the region through increased messaging of success stories and system level change.

The Public Health Council Board of Directors and staff look forward to working with all our partners and stakeholders over the next 3-5 years to ensure our organization’s sustainability and contribution to the Upper Valley.

Click here to view the full Strategic Plan: PHC Strategic Plan 2022 to 2025

PHC is Hiring! Upper Valley Equity Facilitator

Job Posting: Upper Valley Equity Facilitator

The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley (PHC) is serving as the Backbone Organization for the VDOH White River Junction District Office’s Upper Valley Community Health Equity Partnership. To support that work, PHC seeks a committed community organizer for a .5 FTE (half time) position funded through May 31, 2023, to help move our district and organizations towards greater equity.

The Equity Facilitator will identify and connect with on-the-ground community organizations, agencies, and members within our region that already address the needs of traditionally marginalized groups. The Equity Facilitator will work with an Equity Steering Group, made up of representatives of traditionally marginalized groups and local health and human services providers, to address the barriers these organizations face in building and sustaining their mission-driven work.  There is a chance that the position may grow in hours and/or may be extended beyond May 31, 2023; however, this is dependent on the availability of new funds and cannot be guaranteed.

  1. Work with Backbone Organization, Vermont Department of Health staff, and the Equity Steering Group to develop; a) a data driven problem statement; b) policies and procedures for providing stipends to individuals attending local collaborative meetings; and c) policies and procedures for providing grants to the community to address health inequities.
  2. Work with Backbone Organization, Vermont Department of Health staff, and the Equity Steering Group to determine the most inclusive and effective approach to building a diverse Equity Action Collaborative committed to embedding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into the fabric of local operations and implementing systems-change strategies to improve impact.
  3. Support the work of the Equity Steering Group and serve as its Coordinator and Liaison to the broader community.
  4. To gather data needed to identify health disparities and equity-related problems in the district, engage and mobilize a diverse network that includes individuals from populations at higher risk and that are underserved to develop, implement and monitor programs designed to reduce health disparities and improve health equity in the White River Junction District. This will include local groups and existing state and regional equity groups.
  5. Build – or tap into – methods to communicate with and among a diverse network of individuals from populations at higher risk and that are underserved to share information, build trust, and identify opportunities to amplify their potential to address health disparities and equity-related problems.
  6. Facilitate alignment among multisector partners using collective impact principles, a shared agenda, and shared measurement tools.
  7. Assist the Equity Action Collaborative to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into the fabric of local operations to include advocating for the needs of non-traditional/mainstream organizations and the communities they serve.
  8. Assist the Community Collaborative to develop root cause analysis and implement systems-change (not programmatic) strategies to improve impact.
  9. Administer a grant-making program aimed at addressing health inequities from a systems-change approach.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience in one or more of the following: community outreach and organizing, cultural competency and experience working with diverse stakeholders, community health initiatives, and/or delivering programs in underserved communities. Candidate should have good organizational and communication skills. A bachelor’s degree is preferred, but serious consideration will be given to people with a high school diploma and at least 3 years of related experience.

  • Preference will be given to candidates who are part of a community that has been traditionally underserved and are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection or poor health outcomes.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have lived in the White River Junction District, or nearby, for at least 3 years.
  • We encourage applications from all interested candidates and are open to providing accommodations that enable participation.

PHC Will Provide Resources and Support

Office space will be provided, but with flexibility in terms of in-person, in community, and remote work. We expect the candidate will need to be available for some evening and weekend work assignments. Local travel is also expected; reimbursement will be provided for work related travel.

Training and support will be provided in:

  • Collective Impact Model
  • Measurement and Evaluation

Wages and Benefits: The wages for the position will range between $25 and $28 per hour. The position is benefits eligible, prorated to .5 FTE. Benefits include earned benefit time, paid Holidays, and Health Stipend Account contribution.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, please send a letter of interest to Alice Ely at alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org. In your letter, please tell us what about this position is of most interest to you. What about this position speaks to your experience or your personal goals? Please send a resume or summary of work experience as well. Interviews will begin in week of May 9th and will close when a candidate has been selected. We will begin contacting applicants for interviews on May 5, 2022.

If we can provide accommodations to support you in the application process, please reach out to Alice Ely at alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org.

The position is funded through the Vermont Community Health Equity Partnership, by a grant provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley is serving as backbone organization (subcontractor) to support the Upper Valley Community Health Equity Partnership.

Upper Valley Sees Health Concerns in Broad Terms

Over the past decade, public health and health care professionals have recognized that health care services only account for a small portion (10 to 20%) of a person’s health status. The rest of one’s health status can be attributed to social and economic factors, the physical environment, and health behaviors. These drivers of health are known as the Social Determinants of Health.

Improving community health is at the core of the mission of the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley. Most of our partners share this goal, but contribute in different ways to reaching that goal. Some partners are health care providers, some provide treatment for substance use disorders or mental illnesses, others support people in our communities who struggle with various social determinants of health.

Every three years, the Public Health Council works with area hospitals to conduct a routine community health needs assessment. These assessments form the basis for updating priorities and give us insight into what concerns community members. Over the course of 2021, the Public Health Council supported data collection efforts led by Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, VNHVNA, and Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. Each health care organization uses the results to create Community Health Improvement Plans for their organizations. The Public Health Council will work with many partners across the region to generate a Community Health Improvement plan that reflects to great work ongoing in our region, leverage our strengths, and challenge our partners to find and fill gaps together.

Community Health Needs Assessments Available Online

To review the most recent Community Health Needs Assessments and related documents by hospital service area or organization:

The Upper Valley Community Health Needs Assessment generated for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alice Peck Day primary hospital service areas covers 19 municipalities in Vermont and New Hampshire, with a total resident population of 69,612 people.  Data came from over 1,600 survey responses from community residents; a direct email survey of key stakeholders and community leaders; a set of community discussion groups; and a review of available demographics and health status indicators.  The New Hampshire Community Health Institute conducted the survey, data analysis, and report generation. Throughout the process, they were careful to focus on vulnerable and disproportionately served populations in the region.

Taking It Back to the Community

Beginning in February 2022, the Public Health Council worked with partners at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for VT to share the results with members of our communities.  We co-hosted two virtual Community Health Improvement Summits open to all community residents. Our health care partners reviewed the priorities emerging from the recent results. Participants shared their thoughts about what the results tell us, what opportunities we have to address them, and what strategies we might help.

The top six priorities emerging from the results are:

  1. Availability of Mental Health Services
  2. Cost of Health Care Services (Including Dental Care)
  3. Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food
  4. Substance Misuse Prevention and Treatment
  5. Child Wellbeing
  6. Social Determinants of Health (Especially Housing)

The input we received from the two summits, attended by over 125 people, can be found in a report dated April 13, 2022: FY22 CHNA Summit Theme Report.

Recordings of the virtual Summits are available online:

Recording Link: UV Community Health Improvement Summit #1
Date: Feb 23, 2022 08:42 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Recording Link: UV Community Health Improvement Summit #2
Date: Mar 2, 2022 05:14 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Shaping a Plan for Our Communities

For the remainder of 2022, the Public Health Council and partners will work together to create a Community Health Improvement Plan. The Plan will address the priorities by laying out what success would look like and how we can achieve it.

For more information about the community health improvement planning process or ways you can participate, please contact Alice Ely at the Public Health Council.

2021 Community Flu Vaccines Available

Each fall, partner organizations across the Upper Valley come together to provide seasonal flu vaccine to our community members. This year is no exception.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, protecting people from seasonal flu illness is more important than ever. We want to keep people who are medically vulnerable out of health care settings as much as possible. It can also be hard to tell the difference between flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms, so the less flu in our community the better.

There are numerous options for vaccination. Please use the information below to find the right vaccine option for you and your family.

This list DOES NOT include school-based seasonal flu vaccine clinics offered in many of our New Hampshire schools. This is because these clinics are reserved only for students of those schools. If your child has the opportunity to get a vaccine in one of these school-based clinics, we encourage you to sign them up.

Public Health Council & Dartmouth Hitchcock Hosts Series of Community Flu Clinics

Starting on Saturday, October 2, the Public Health Council, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Geisel School of Medicine and other partners will host free seasonal flu vaccine clinics in communities around our region. Clinic details are below:

Saturday, October 2
10 am to 1 pm
Plainfield Elementary School, 92 Bonner Road, Meriden, NH
Walk-In, No Reservation Required, Free, See other guidance below.

Friday, October 8
3 to 6 pm
La Salette Shrine, Rte 4a, Enfield, NH
Drive Thru, No Reservation Required, Free, See other guidance below.

Saturday, October 9
10 am to 1 pm
Orford Congregational Church, 617 NH Rte 10, Orford, NH
Walk-In, No Reservation Required, Free, See other guidance below.

Wednesday, October 13
3 to 6 pm
Oxbow High School, 36 Oxbow Drive, Bradford, VT
Drive Thru, No Reservation Required, Free, See other guidance below.

Friday, October 29
4 to 7 pm
Mascoma Community Health Center, 18 Roberts Road, Canaan, NH
Walk-In, No Reservation Required, Free, See other guidance below.

PHC Vaccination Clinic Guidance
  • Offering regular dose vaccine and enhanced vaccine for people 65+. We will NOT be offering COVID-19 vaccines at these clinics.
  • Please practice social distancing for both drive thru and walk-in clinics.
  • Everyone will be required to wear a mask. A mask will be provided for you if you do not have one.
  • Please do not come if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes prior to the start of the clinic.

Other Flu Vaccine Options in the Upper Valley

Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Dartmouth-Hitchcock will also be offering numerous flu vaccine clinic options at various locations at the Medical Center this year. Please go to their Lebanon Flu Clinic Schedule webpage for details. Many of these clinics are drive thru and a few are walk-in. Reservations are required. If you are a DHMC patient and use myD-H.org to make an appointment. If you do not use myD-H, you may call the Flu Hotline at 603-653-3731.

When you schedule your appointment, please have your insurance card ready. If you carry health care insurance, we will bill your carrier at no cost to you. For individuals who do not have any health insurance, we will be providing flu vaccines free of charge. Please contact the Flu Hotline for more information.

Visiting Nurse and Hospice for VT and NH

Tuesday, October 19
9 am to 2 pm
Thompson Senior Center, 99 Senior Lane, Woodstock
Walk-in clinics open to people age 18 and older. Limited number of enhanced doses available.

Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice

For people ages 19 and older. Appointments required by calling 603-748-1731, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare Replacement Plan insurance cards. Without insurance, it costs $40 for the regular dose and $80 for the enhanced dose, which is recommended for people 65 and older. If able, print out and bring flu vaccine consent form found at LakeSunapeeVNA.org.

A schedule of LSRVNA Clinics is available  at their Flu Clinic webpage.

Valley News

We are grateful to the Valley News for helping spread the word about seasonal flu vaccine clinics. Many of the clinics listed above and more are listed by date and location in an article published on September 16th: 2021 Upper Valley Flu Shot Clinics.

In addition, many of these clinics will be posted to the Valley News Calendar, available online and in the print edition.

We wish all our Upper Valley neighbors a healthy and safe fall and winter!

Geisel School of Medicine Student Arvind Suresh Receives Prestigious Public Health Service Award

This article was written by Susan Green and originally published in the Geisel School of Medicine News on May 27, 2021. The PHC appreciates the opportunity to share this news about Arvind Suresh, who was a key architect of our Fall 2020 Community Flu Vaccine Clinics. The original posting can be found here. — Alice Ely

Arvind Suresh, Geisel ’23

Given annually to medical students in recognition of their commitment to addressing public health issues in their community, the competitive U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award rewards visionary medical students who are advancing initiatives to improve public health. This is the seventh year in a row a Geisel student has received this award.

Second-year medical student Arvind Suresh ’23 has been recognized for his leadership in organizing and managing student-run mobile community influenza vaccination clinics—marshalling fellow medical student volunteers who contributed more than 600 hours of service in administering influenza vaccines throughout the New Hampshire and Vermont Upper Valley region last Fall. And for his commitment to addressing food insecurity in rural Vermont communities.

Leading the Geisel Vaccinator Corps

Citing Suresh’s work, Commander Andrew Geller, MD, co-chair of the U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Awards Program, wrote it is a “testament to the education provided by the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and to the high caliber of your students. We hope that this will encourage your faculty and students to continue their strong work in public health.”
Partnering with the Upper Valley Public Health Council and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Suresh, along with Isabelle Tersio ’23, Sean Halloran ’23, and Sean Liu ’23, led a team of Geisel student vaccinators in bringing vaccines to rural locations where community members would otherwise need to travel farther distances to access medical care.

Geisel Vaccinator Corps at Bradford, VT, October 2020

“We have recruited and trained more than 170 medical student volunteers as part of the Geisel Vaccinator Corps with the help of our faculty advisor Dr. Annika Brown,” he says. “Since January 2021, we have also been able to work closely with Dartmouth-Hitchcock to staff weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinics for health care workers, teachers, and Upper Valley community members as part of New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout.”

They also staffed clinics at the Upper Valley Haven, an organization that provides services to individuals facing housing instability or homelessness, for both community members and Haven staff.

During the COVID-19 vaccine clinics, the Vaccinator Corps additionally served as public health educators by helping answer questions about the vaccine and clarifying myths vs. facts—in doing so they played a critical role in promoting vaccine safety.

Care and Vaccines Through Project Salud

Suresh has recently collaborated with Stephen Genereaux MED ’87 and Little Rivers Healthcare in Vermont to bring COVID-19 vaccines to migrant dairy farmworkers farms in the Upper Valley. “It has been so gratifying to be able to advocate for these essential workers—and as part of my ongoing work with Project Salud, a student-run mobile clinic that partners with Genereaux to provide medical screening and care to migrant workers—to be able to develop programs that center the voices of farmworkers and support the physical and mental health needs of this underserved population,” he adds.

Tackling Food Insecurity

Last Spring, he and Arhem Barkatullah ’23, both Schweitzer Fellows, turned their attention to addressing food insecurity in Orange County, Vermont, one of the most food insecure regions in that state where many communities are more than 30 minutes away from the nearest grocery store.
Little Rivers Healthcare was already evaluating patients for food insecurity as part of their social determinants of health screening. Suresh and Barkatullah initially planned to pair nutrition counseling with free groceries that patients would pick up at one of the Little Rivers clinics. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they adopted a food delivery service and offered nutrition counseling via telehealth. “We created recipe and nutrition cards to help patients make the best use of produce items they may not be familiar with and included them in the food deliveries,” Suresh explains.

The duo is now developing “bite-sized, digestible” podcasts and infographics that patients can access to learn more about nutrition topics specific to community needs. The long-term goal is to build sustainable solutions for food insecurity via “food pharmacies” at Little Rivers where patients can pick up fresh food specific to their health needs, as well as a gardening program on dairy farms to support migrant farmworkers who wish to grow culturally specific foods.
“One of the most meaningful aspects of leading these projects has been the opportunity to collaborate with so many students, healthcare providers, and community leaders in promoting population health,” Suresh says.

“As a future physician, I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to serve as advocates in our community and address the inequities and social determinants that lead to poor health outcomes—as the COVID-19 pandemic has widened many of the existing health disparities across our country and claimed the lives of so many, it is even more important that we do everything we can as medical students to support our community,” he adds.

Extending Physicians Roles Beyond the Doors of the Clinic

In a year that has completely transformed public health and healthcare, community service has allowed Suresh to see the integral role that physicians can play in advancing social justice, a role, he believes, that extends far beyond the doors of the clinic or hospital.

“My experiences have reinforced how closely tied patient health is to that of the entire community and will strengthen my ability to meet the needs of my future patients,” he says. “I am grateful to be part of such a dedicated community at Geisel. These service projects would not have been possible without the continued support of faculty and classmates.”