PHC Partners in Statewide Initiative to Keep New Hampshire Healthy

#MaskUpNewHampshire Initiative Focuses on Reducing the Community Transmission of COVID-19

As part of a collaborative effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 across the state and keep our Upper Valley healthy, the Public Health Council is partnering with business and organizations statewide on a grassroots movement to encourage the use of face masks in public and work settings. The initiative, #MaskUpNewHampshire, aims to strengthen efforts led by the Common Man family and the Rotary Clubs of New Hampshire. These organizations are helping to raise awareness around the importance of wearing masks, and how doing so along with other measures like handwashing, practicing social distancing and staying home when we are sick, can reduce the community transmission of COVID-19.

While there is still much to learn about COVID-19 and its transmission, what is known is that wearing a mask is one of the most simple and effective things that can keep the virus from spreading.  It’s also a visible way to demonstrate concern and protection for others and an important way that everyone can help.

Keeping our Communities Thriving, Healthy, and Safe

“Public health professionals and Rotarians agree that keeping our communities thriving, healthy, and safe are goals where everyone can play a part. Wearing masks when you can’t physical distance is a simple and effective way to be of service to those around you. It protects them from unintended exposure to COVID-19. One of Rotary’s core principles is to always ask whether an action will be beneficial to all concerned. Seems to me when it comes to wearing a mask the answer is YES!,” says Rudy Fedrizzi, MD, Board Chair for the Public Health Council and member of the Rotary Club of Lebanon, NH.

In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, state and public health officials recommend cloth face coverings whenever in public in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. According to a recent study from global investment firm Goldman Sachs, mask-wearing by every American could save the U.S. economy from a 5% drop in GDP, or approximately $1 trillion in reduced economic spending.

This grassroots initiative aims to remind both residents and visitors that wearing a mask can make a significant difference in helping to reduce risk of exposure and stop the spread of COVID-19. By wearing a mask regularly when out in public or at work, both New Hampshire residents and visitors can help slow the spread and keep the Upper Valley healthy, safe and open.

For more information or to participate in the statewide initiative to keep New Hampshire healthy, please visit or contact Alice Ely at

Upper Valley MRC Supports COVID-19 Testing

Volunteer Brett Mayfield dons his PPE to begin a clinic shift, while providers at the specimen collection station look on.

Since May, the Vermont Department of Health has sponsored weekly COVID-19 testing clinics for the asymptomatic public. Residents and visitors regularly register for these clinics for many reasons. People want to visit loved ones who are high risk, reduce their quarantine period, attend a summer camp, or protect themselves while working at a high-risk business. The reasons are as varied as the people who come, but the results are the same. Upper Valley folks from both Vermont and New Hampshire are flocking to get quality testing in their community.

Volunteer Eileen Murphy mans the triage tent to screen and check in registrants.

Upper Valley MRC Supports COVID-19 Testing

Three Upper Valley Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have stepped up to supplement the healthcare workforce staffing these weekly Covid-19 testing clinics. Eileen Murphy is a local nurse practitioner. Brett Mayfield is a town health officer and owner of a local healthcare practice. Andrea Morancy is a school nurse.  All three regularly take shifts at the Springfield or White River Junction COVID-19 sites. Their tasks are as varied as triaging and symptom checking incoming patients, communicating critical healthcare information, verifying registration information, or conducting testing. These skilled providers fill critical roles that aid the Health Department and local EMS personnel who regularly run the clinics. They also fulfill the MRC mission of being the second line of defense when local capacity is stretched.

Attendees of local clinics constantly provide feedback on the professionalism, friendliness and gentleness of the team. The Upper Valley has garnered a reputation for being ‘the place’ to go for testing. “It’s all about setting expectations and meeting them,” says Eileen Murphy, who often works the Triage station. “It’s so rewarding to have someone full of anxiety come through the line, receive information and reassurance, and just see the stress leave their face. Then to get a thumbs up when they exit the testing area and to hear confirmation that although there is discomfort, it was not as bad as expected.”

Covid-19 Testing Clinics Continue Through August

Covid-19 testing clinics will continue in Vermont through the end of August (2020). For more information on locations and how to register, visit To volunteer with Upper Valley MRC, reach out to us at

Police Recognized for Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness

The Hartford Police Department is pleased to announce the successful completion of the “One Mind Pledge”, a commitment the department entered to improve our response to those affected by mental health issues.  The pledge is part of an initiative started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a professional association representing law enforcement on relevant public safety matters, including providing training and technical assistance.

Commitment to Partnering

In completing the One Mind Pledge, the Hartford Police committed to a sustainable partnership with Health Care & Rehabilitative Services of Southeastern Vermont (HCRS) and other area human service providers to insure ongoing dialogue in assisting those in crisis.  Through the support of HCRS, the Police Department and our community have benefited from the daily assistance of an embedded Police Social Worker, who assisted in developing model policies for the department’s response to persons in crisis.

Beyond implementing enhanced policies and meeting state legal requirements, all members of the Police Department have received enhanced Training in responding to persons experiencing a Mental Health Crisis, including one or more programs such as Mental Health First Aid, Team-Two developed by Vermont Care Partners and, CIT or Crisis Intervention Team.  Assisted by HCRS, The Upper Valley Public Health Council, and the Lebanon, New Hampshire Police Department, the Police Social Worker oversees a regular CIT training program for uninformed and non-uniformed police staff, with 88% of police and communications personnel having successfully completing the program.  Originally known as the “Memphis Model,” and later recommended by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, CIT is a collaborative, 40 hour program of instruction.

Preparing Law Enforcement to Respond to Persons affected by Mental Health Issues

Responding to persons affected by mental health issues, particularly those in crisis has become common for law enforcement nationwide, including the Town of Hartford.  Already this year, police have answered 163 calls for persons in need of assistance due to a mental health issue.  To the extreme, at least 40 were in crisis at the time officers arrived, including ten persons who were armed with weapons – including a firearm, knives and a bat.  In these extreme cases, training is coupled with improved technologies and protective equipment to enhance safety for the officer and person in crisis, increasing the likelihood of a positive resolution.

The core competencies required of One Mind Pledges – collaboration, improved policies and specialized training have assisted in better preparing the Hartford Police in meeting these challenges.  Although the greatest benefit is the open, continuing dialogue and collaboration with our medical, human and social service partners in preventing our residents from reaching the point of crisis.

For more information on the One Mind Pledge, including pledge requirements and a list of agencies having pledged or completed their pledge, visit the IACP website at:

For more information CIT, visit the CIT International website at:

Posted with permission of Phil Kasten, Chief of Police,Town of Hartford, Vermont. Original press release dated Wednesday, December 4, 2019.

Advocating for Our Upper Valley Public Health Priorities

Training attendees discuss advocacy issues with facilitators during small-group breakout session.

On March 4th, 2020, the PHC hosted our first bi-state advocacy training at Kilton Library in West Lebanon. The training was facilitated by two of New Futures’ Community Engagement Coordinators (Jess Wojenski and Pedro Altagracia), as well as Bi-State Primary Care’s Director of Vermont Public Policy, Helen Labun.

This training follows the PHC’s multistep initiative to expand upon our public policy capacity. Pursuant to the legislative breakfast we hosted mid-September, the Public Health Council deemed advocacy trainings as our next best step. We hope this event is the first of many trainings. An advocacy training such as this serves each of the PHC’s three guiding principles: collaboration, education, advocacy.

Advocacy Skills

The event lasted about two and a half hours. In the first hour and a half, three facilitators covered advocacy basics, such as the legislative processes in New Hampshire and Vermont (i.e. how a bill becomes law, how many representatives each state has, how to prepare an effective testimony piece, and how to contact legislators). The facilitators fielded general questions as well as questions specific to each state and an individual’s respective interests.

After this portion of the event, participants broke up by state to have more intimate discussions with their states’ respective expert(s). The hour allowed attendees to ask any question they had about advocacy in their work areas. For no specific reason, it seems the conversation on the New Hampshire side tended towards more niche topics such as sexual assault advocacy and best practices for older adults looking to advocate. On the other hand, the Vermont conversation was dominated by questions for community nursing projects.

Following the event, we asked participants to fill out a survey to indicate how valuable they felt the event was. In general, participants responded positively to the training and found it to be an event ripe for learning, led by informed and helpful facilitators. However, there is still room for improvement on the points of contacting legislators and testifying on health-related issues. We will aim to cater our next advocacy trainings to these points.

More About New Futures and Bi-state Primary Care:

New Futures:

New Futures is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to advocate for and with New Hampshire residents to improve health care and wellness public policy in the state. This organization focuses on areas slightly different from the PHC: alcohol and drug policy, general health policy, early childhood policy, access to treatment policy, and children’s behavioral health. They do significant work on advocating for policy which aids New Hampshire families and children, for more information on this project click here. New Futures has the capacity to provide general and issue-specific advocacy trainings to the general public at no cost. These trainings equip community members with the skills to better advocate on health-related issues in their respective communities.

For more information on New Futures’ trainings offerings click here.

Bi-State Primary Care:

Bi-State Primary Care Association is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that aims to support individuals from New Hampshire and Vermont in their ability to access Community Health Centers, with the goal of providing quality, affordable health care to all. This organization also has a robust public policy capacity. By regularly communicating with legislators, policymakers, non-profit leaders, Bi-State advocates for their priority areas.

For more information on Bi-State Primary Cares’ policy agenda in Vermont, click here, for New Hampshire, click here .

Where do we go from here?

The Public Health Council views this event as a great step forward, towards our goal of an expanded public policy capacity. Our three guiding principles, collaborate, educate and advocate were each touched upon through this event. Firstly, this event was collaborative in nature, as it provided an opportunity for individuals from two different states to convene, share experiences and lessons learned through their own experiences. The diverse array of stakeholders who attended the event included community health workers, folks involved on nursing projects within the Upper Valley, The Dartmouth Institute representatives, and even community members who came as individuals.

Secondly, the event’s educational dimension came through our facilitators who shared best practices and case studies on advocacy in the two states; there was also profound learning between attendees. Lastly, our goal of advocacy was certainly touched upon, as our PHC members and visiting community members gained a step-by-step approach to public health advocacy in the two states.

Our public policy capacity work doesn’t stop here. In the coming months, we will be working to develop:

  • Policy briefs timed in accordance with legislative sessions;
  • Resource area on our website to help connect legislators with facts, best practices and a means to connect with public health advocacy groups in NH and VT; and
  • Planning for future advocacy training sessions, likely catered more towards specific priority areas than general advocacy.

PHC Welcomes New Board Members

The Public Health Council of the Upper Valley announces the appointment of two new members of its Board of Directors, as well as the full slate of officers and board members for 2020. Joining the Board of Directors are Rudolph (Rudy) Fedrizzi and Roberta Berner. “Both Rudy and Roberta bring expertise, passion, and commitment to our communities. We are fortunate to have them by our side as we grow this organization to promote a healthy and supportive Upper Valley,” Alice Ely, Executive Director.

Rudy Fedrizzi, MD, is the Public Health Services District Director for the White River Junction District Office of VT Department of Health. Dr. Fedrizzi previously practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology for 16 years and holds medical licenses in VT and NH. Dr. Fedrizzi served as Director of Clinical Integration in the Center for Population Health at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock, a community hospital and multi-specialty physician practice located in Keene, NH, from 2010 to 2018. In that role, he served as a core member of the Healthy Monadnock Initiative project team, an effort similar to the Public Health Council.

Roberta Berner has worked for a wide variety of public and nonprofit organizations throughout her career in New Hampshire, Mississippi, Ohio, Minnesota and Florida. She moved to New Hampshire in 1998 and recently retired after 20 years with Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, Inc., including more than 15 years as Executive Director. Roberta is a gubernatorial appointee to the newly formed NH State Commission on Aging.

PHC Sees Change in Board Leadership

At the Public Health Council’s Annual Meeting on Friday, November 15, Dr. Fedrizzi was elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. He replaces Julia Griffin, Hanover Town Manager, as Chair. Ms. Griffin remains on the Board but has stepped down from her leadership role after leading the organization through a four-year period of growth and transition. “I deeply appreciate Julia’s leadership as we made the decision to rebrand the Mascoma Valley Health Initiative to the Public Health Council back in 2016. Julia played a significant role in the process of change and in making sure all our partners embraced the change,” says Alice Ely.

Keynote Promotes Changing the Conversation Around Aging

The meeting included a Keynote Address by Kelly Laflamme, NH Endowment for Health, and Jennifer Rabalais, UNH’s Center on Aging and Community Living and Institute on Disability entitled, “Changing the Conversation Around Aging: Telling a New Story.” Negative attitudes about aging are bad for our health. So bad, in fact, the World Health Organization has launched a global campaign to end ageism. The Reframing Aging Initiative is working to advance a new story about aging that recognizes the challenges and opportunities that increasing longevity poses to our communities. Kelly and Jennifer shared the research and tools developed by experts at the FrameWorks Institute and encourage PHC partners to advance a new narrative about aging that is better for everyone’s health. A copy of the presentation can be found here: Reframing Aging Upper Valley Nov 15 2019.

Alice Ely provided an annual review of activities and preview of priorities for 2020. She highlighted PHC partners work on a new Community Health Improvement Plan, new Drug Free Community Support grants in the region, record-breaking school-based flu immunization clinics, and more. A copy of the presentation can be found here: PHC Directors Report 11 15 2019.

PHC’s First Public Health Hall of Fame Honoree

Finally, PHC Partners recognized Bill Boyle, as he retired as Ex-Officio Medical Director of the Public Health Council after more than 10 years as a champion for the organization. Alice Ely presented Dr. Boyle with the 1st Public Health Hall of Fame Award to the applause of all present. Dr. Boyle is a pediatrician who retired from D-H and CHaD in 2011 after 41 years in practice. Most of his career was devoted to treating children with chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis, cancer and diabetes. He always found time to serve as school physician for the Hanover schools and health officer for the Town of Hanover for 24 years. Dr. Boyle also tirelessly to make sure that children and families found support in organizations and places throughout our communities.