On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, at the most recent Mascoma Valley Health Initiative (MVHI) Annual Meeting, Executive Director Alice Ely led an encouraging and productive discussion on the growing impact of the Public Health Council (PHC). The quickly growing PHC seeks to bring together the major health players in the Upper Valley area to develop strategies and partnerships to combat the most pressing public health issues facing local communities today.
The first panelist to speak was Margaret Brown, the Manager of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Community Health Department. She spoke on Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s evolving role with respect to public health and how the PHC is helping to facilitate the growth of DHMC’s recent initiatives through its local members and their expertise.
Second to speak was Julia Griffin who currently serves as the Town Manager of Hanover. Under the state’s unorthodox (public health) system, Griffin, and other town managers like her, are tasked with administering mandated welfare and other health-related commissions. Noting this in her discussion of her work, she praised the PHC for its ability to incentivize progress on community health initiatives through collective action and interest.
Finally, Marjorie Matthews, an Upper Valley Volunteer and Advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, elaborated on how instrumental the PHC has been in bringing Crisis Intervention Team Training to local police stations as well as advancing the discussion on mental health in general. Speaking from years of personal experience, she said, “We may have voices, we may have causes, but we don’t have the ways to make those things happen. The Public Health Council has provided the agent to make it happen.”
Moving forward, the PHC plans to turn connections into action and begin working on specific projects, says Director Ely. These projects include initiatives in substance misuse prevention, aging health, and oral health. In the emerging area of community health, the PHC is truly showing itself to be a leader able to make a significant impact in the Upper Valley region. As Julia Griffin put it, “The Public Health Council has put itself on the map and is hopefully now a model for the rest of the state.”
During the Business portion of the Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors bid a fond farewell to long-time Board Members, William Boyle, MD, Nancy DuMont, and David Beaufait, MD. These distinguished individuals have served in various leadership roles on the MVHI Board for more than six years each and will be sorely missed. Also during the Annual Meeting, Board Members elected Nathan Miller, of Enfield, to a new three-year term on the Board of Directors. Julia Griffin, of Hanover, was elected Chair of the Board; Shawn Russell, of Dorchester, was elected Vice Chair of the Board. Lisa Bujno, of Wilder, will serve as Treasurer. MVHI works to protect and promote the health of our community and hosts the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, the Mascoma Valley Prevention Network, and the Indian River Youth 2 Youth program.