Upper Valley School Superintendents Summit

Upper Valley School Superintendents’ Summit Matches Students’ and Families Needs with Area Providers

On June 5, 2017, the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley and Dr. Joanne Roberts, Superintendent of the Lebanon School District, hosted a forum that brought together school personnel with health and human services providers. “Our schools in the Upper Valley provide great learning opportunities for our students. Our administrators and staff are talented, passionate and caring. One of the challenges we currently face is meeting students’ and families’ needs who struggle with poverty, housing insecurity, and are impacted by mental health issues and addiction. We need to mobilize all available resources to help support and serve our children and families,” said Dr. Roberts, to a crowd of over fifty people.

The idea for the Summit emerged from conversations between Dr. Roberts, and Alice Ely, Executive Director of the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley. Dr. Roberts described the challenges children and families are encountering. Ms. Ely offered to find the providers who could help address those issues. “We have so many great resources available here in the Upper Valley. However, sometimes the challenge for busy professionals is making connections to others who can help them better serve their constituents. That is one of the key roles the Public Health Council plays. I was thrilled to partner with Dr. Roberts to make this event happen,” says Ms. Ely.

A Service to Schools
At the Summit, 20 area providers shared brief descriptions of their services with over 25 school representatives from seven school districts. We used a round robin format to give each provider time to speak. Each round included time for questions and discussion. During a luncheon that followed, providers and school personnel were able to discuss future collaboration more informally. According to Jacqui Guillette, Superintendent of the Grantham School District, “This summit enabled staff from the Grantham School District to learn about providers and services available to support and help the Grantham students, families, and community. We feel better prepared to offer referrals or networking to these providers and services. This event was well worth the time we invested.”

Many of the providers at the Summit described the process as a very efficient way to let schools know how they can help. The Summit also served to many as a call for more collective action. As put by Heidi Postupack, Executive Director of Second Growth, “During the Summit, it became evident to us all that schools need support from every corner of the community including parent organizations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations.”

Participants from Across the Region
The schools and districts whose staff attended the summit included: Grantham School District, Hartford Area Career and Technical Center, Hartford School District, Lebanon School District, Ledyard Charter School, Lyme School District, and the Mascoma Valley Regional School District.

Representatives from the following organizations attended to share information about their services and discuss partnership opportunities: Center for School Success, Child and Family Services, Clara Martin Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pediatrics, Deer Creek PA, Good Beginnings of the Upper Valley, HALO Educational Services, HCRS, Lebanon Human Services, NAMI New Hampshire, Ottauquechee Health Foundation, Second Growth, TLC Family Resource Center, Twin Pines Housing Trust, Upper Valley Haven (Family Services and Children’s Support Programs), Vet Center, The Welcoming All Nationalities Network of the Upper Valley, West Central Behavioral Health, and WISE.

Ms. Ely hopes to use this summit format for future gatherings, between schools and providers and, potentially between other groups who would benefit from learning about each other. For the next School Superintendents Summit, planned for the spring of 2018, the Public Health Council expects to invite more school districts within our region.  She also welcomes ideas from the community about how such a format might be used to promote collaboration for better health.

PHC Seeks VISTA Volunteer

May 12, 2017 — The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley seeks a motivated VISTA Volunteer to serve as our PHC Partnership Coordinator for the next year. The Partnership Coordinator will develop an outreach and fundraising plan to build capacity in Vermont communities. The Partnership Coordinator will manage communications with and between the working groups of the Public Health Council. Finally, the volunteer will help promote the work of the Public Health Council in the region.

Benefits of the Position

The PHC works with community leaders and representatives from a diverse group of community sectors. Partners work together to create a more healthy, safe, supportive, and vital Upper Valley. The PHC encourages collaboration among organizations to deliver core public health services, establish public health priorities, and mobilize resources to achieve measurable outcomes. The proposed project will help the PHC build capacity to serve the needs of towns and organizations in the 22 Vermont communities recently added to our region. The project will strengthen our capacity to reduce health disparities and address social determinants of health across our entire region.

To do this work, our volunteer will interact with a diverse group of people from organizations across our region. All of these people are dedicated to improving community health and have lessons to teach. The volunteer will learn about the connections between health, health care, and the conditions in which people live. The position provides a wonderful opportunity for someone interested in a career in public health, community development, or community-based health services.

How to Apply

This position has been approved by the Corporation for National and Community Service. We are pleased to have a grant from the Couch Family Foundation to allow us to support this VISTA Volunteer position.

More details about the job description and instructions for applications are available at the Americorps website.

ParentUpVT.org Helps Start Discussions about Substance Misuse

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Editorial Note: This press release is reposted with permission of the VT Department of Health. For more details of substance misuse prevention and related work in the Upper Valley, please visit Upper Valley All Together. The State of NH also hosts a very effective website, full of information and resources, at DrugFreeNH.

 BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health wants people to know at least two key things about teens, drugs and alcohol: 1) All teens are at risk for substance misuse, and 2) Parents are the number one influence on their kids’ deciding to not misuse drugs and alcohol. To help families start the conversation and keep it going in a way that is meaningful to teens, the Health Department has expanded its ParentUpVT.org web resource to include more interactive tools and how-to guides for parents and caregivers.

“We know kids are at risk for substance misuse, because they told us so,” said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner with the Vermont Department of Health. “Every two years, our Youth Risk Behavior Survey asks high school students about their risk-related behaviors. What we learned from the students is that in the month before the survey, 30 percent drank alcohol, 16 percent binged on five or more drinks in a row, and 22 percent smoked marijuana,” said Cimaglio.

The good news, she said, is that children who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are significantly less likely to misuse these substances. “Every parent needs to have these conversations with their kids, and it will make a difference,” said Cimaglio. “Solid research shows the number one reason students give for not drinking or using drugs is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents.”

ParentUpVT.org

ParentUpVT.org helps parents figure out how to have these difficult conversations with their children. “Every family is different, but the common element is that our kids look to us for guidance, whether we know it or not,” said Cimaglio. “The tools, tips and videos will give parents what they need to talk with their teen in a way that they will hear you.”

To view the videos and find all the tools for talking to your kids, visit ParentUpVT.org.

For health news, alerts and information, visit healthvermont.gov
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Latest County Health Rankings Released

Grafton County, NH and Windsor County, VT featured in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 8th Annual County Health Rankings

Lebanon, NH and White River Junction, VT– Grafton County and Windsor County ranked favorably in numerous categories according to the eighth annual County Health Rankings, recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of  Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). Of particular note were Grafton County’s #1 rankings among New Hampshire counties for both clinical care and physical environment. For its part, Windsor County showed strength in its #3 ranking among Vermont counties for health behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity. The County Health Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley is working with regional partners to positively address many of the health outcomes, health factors, policies and programs identified by the Rankings. Specific priorities are defined in the Upper Valley Public Health Region’s Community Health Improvement Plan and include:

  • Preparing for emergencies, including planning and exercising to quickly distribute medications to residents;
  • Impacting substance misuse by implementing evidence-based prevention programs;
  • Promoting healthy weight and relieving food insecurity; and
  • Improving oral health in the Upper Valley

“The information contained in the County Health Rankings report provides critical input to those of us working to effect positive change in population health outcomes.” said Alice Ely, Director of the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley. “Understanding our communities’ health disparities and what is working well allows the many partners of the Public Health Council to make smart choices about where to target efforts to improve health for all of our communities.”

For specific information about the work of the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, visit their website at https://uvpublichealth.org/ or email them at info@uvpublichealth.org.

For More Information: Emergency Preparedness

For more information regarding Emergency Preparedness efforts and how you can get involved through organizations like the Upper Valley Medical Reserve Corps, contact Wesley Miller at d.wesley.miller@hitchcock.org.

For More Information: National Public Health Week

April 3–9 is 2017 National Public Health week; for more information visit www.nphw.org.

Transforming Behavioral Health Care Across New Hampshire

On January Region 1 Map25th, about 75 individuals came together from across Region 1 to kick-off the next five months of work to begin transforming behavioral health care for our Medicaid enrolled residents. Through hands-on, small group exercises, teams worked together to discuss opportunities, challenges and goals of our region as we partner in driving integration, improving coordination and expanding capacity. Shared themes emerged across all project team groups including an emphasis on patient-centered care, increased access, improved communication among providers and with patients, enhanced and embedded wraparound services especially housing and transportation, innovative technology solutions, care management roles, peer recovery coaches, and a progressive, proactive and positive culture. Thank you to everyone for their active engagement in this kick-off!

Our work in Region 1 is part of a statewide effort to address costly concerns about how our behavioral health and health care systems respond to our most vulnerable people. Widespread variability currently exists in the availability and accessibility of both general and behavioral health services, including those for substance use disorders, across the state of New Hampshire and especially for the Medicaid population.  Poor coordination among providers further inhibits availability of these needed services and treatments – even in those communities with sufficient resources.  As a result, patients and families struggle to schedule and keep convenient appointments; navigate among providers, offices and agencies; facilitate or ask for communication between providers; or receive all of the care they need in a timely manner.

Providers are often as frustrated as the patients and families; they find that the system makes it increasingly challenging for them to provide patient-centered care and fulfill their missions as care providers.

The State of New Hampshire, responding to a call to action, was awarded federal dollars (the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Medicaid 1115 Waiver – also known as the DSRIP Waiver) to improve behavioral health services across the state of New Hampshire for those insured by Medicaid.  The state has created seven regions through which these funds will be invested over the next four years, with some of the funds awarded only if care is improved.

Transforming Behavioral Health Care in Region 1

Region 1 consists of Sullivan County, the Greater Monadnock region, and the Upper Valley. The State intends these funds be used to redesign the delivery of care through the integration of behavioral and general health services, with a specific emphasis on helping patients with substance use disorders and serious mental illness.   Almost 50 agencies, including advocacy groups, public health advisory councils, housing agencies, municipal offices, clinical providers, substance use disorder centers and mental health workers, have united to create innovative solutions to address the systemic problems (both statewide and locally) that lead to poor health outcomes.  We hope the changes we make will, in turn, benefit the whole community, improving health for everyone and not just the Medicaid recipients.

The work is divided into several broad categories:

  • Integration of mental health and substance use treatments into primary care practices to provide one-stop care and comprehensive care plans –  making it easier to coordinate among clinicians and service providers
  • Development of a simple, confidential information system that allows for efficient flow of information among providers
  • Expansion of intensive substance use disorder treatments and services – availability and access
  • Improvement of care during transitions from hospital to community – ensuring patients do not “fall through the cracks” upon discharge
  • Education and training of a new group of mental health workers to help coordinate and manage care
  • Improvement of the care system for people with complex mental and physical disabilities
  • Creation of an alternative payment model to ensure coverage for all integrated services

Our communities currently face a health crisis; this grant provides the necessary support to find solutions.  Working together, as partners, we will meet this challenge by creating innovative paths to ensure all patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place. Together, we are transforming behavioral health care for all.

For more information about this initiative, see this article posted on the DHMC website in November 2016.

To contact initiative staff, you can reach out to Ann H. N. Landry, Executive Director, or Jessica Powell, Project Manager.