Massachusetts Public Health Association
Action for Equity in Health   
July 2015
In This Issue:


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Happy Independence Day! I hope you had a safe and fun 4th of July.


There is a lot to celebrate right now for public health in Massachusetts.


Our campaign for Complete Streets won two big victories this June. Mass DOT announced a funding commitment of $12.5 million for the Complete Streets Certification Program and the Community Compact Cabinet named Complete Streets as a best practice. 


In other good news, residents of the Brockton area now have increased access to healthy food thanks to our partners at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center who worked with Vicente's Tropical Grocery to create a single site where community members can access food, health care and cooking classes. 


While we have a number of successes to celebrate, there remains plenty of work to do to ensure health equity across Massachusetts. The Boston Foundation (TBF) released a new report identifying five priorities for a healthier Massachusetts. On June 16, TBF held a forum to discuss the findings. As a panel speaker, I discussed the importance of advocacy and policy change to address the social determinants of health. I was joined by one of our leading advocates in the state house Sen. Jason Lewis and key allies Andre Leroux from the MA Smart Growth Alliance and Winton Pitcoff who is leading the food systems planning effort at MAPC. 


In addition, our partners at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation released this timely new report: "Leveraging the Social Determinants of Health: What works?" Check out the full report on their website here.

Lastly,- and importantly! - please take a moment to contact your state representatives about MBTA reform. Affordable and accessible transportation is essential for addressing health equity. 


Thank you for all you do, 




Rebekah Gewirtz

Executive Director 

MassDOT Allocates Millions for Complete Streets

We're thrilled to report that the MA Department of Transportation recently released their draft FY16 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) with a funding commitment of $12.5 million for the Complete Streets Certification Program.


We are in the process of learning the details about when the application process will begin for municipalities and the timing for use of these funds. We expect that up to $5 million will be awarded in the first year of this new program, with the remainder to follow in FY17. Interestingly, funding for the program is not coming from the capital budget but from some of the gaming revenues dedicated to MassDOT. Read on


Earned Sick Time Took Effect on July 1!
Massachusetts employees began accruing sick leave on July 1. This means workers will now be able to take time needed to care for themselves or a family member without fear of losing their job.  

All of us at MPHA are so proud to have supported and been a part of this important public health campaign. 

Read the Attorney General's  Notice of Employee Rights.

Read the Boston Globe's editorial on why  Paid Sick Leave is good policy.

ACA Upheld
As you've heard by now, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act subsidies. Massachusetts was a model for this healthcare expansion that has led to coverage for an additional 6 million Americans. This news comes as a huge relief as we think about all the important prevention and treatment measures health insurance allows for such as vaccinations, contraception, STI testing, and chronic disease management. 
Take Action for Transportation - Contact your State Rep Today!

We at MPHA want to ensure that all communities have access to healthy affordable food, safe places for physical activity, and a healthy built environment - this includes supporting a healthy and active transportation system for all!


The Joint Committee on Transportation approved legislation to fund and reform public transportation in Massachusetts and now it's moving towards passage, but it will need your help to get there.


This legislation will give our Governor the tools needed to move our transit system forward while maintaining a system that is reliable, adequately funded, and affordable.


Healthy communities require an equitable transportation system! Please join us in this effort and contact your legislator's today! Read on

The Boston Foundation and NEHI Release a New Report Identifying Five Priorities for a Healthier Massachusetts
From the Boston Foundation, June 18, 2015
While many indicators of health and wellness are steady or rising, a focus on five key priorities will be necessary if the state wants to improve public health and cut health-care spending, the authors of a new Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative report told more than 225 people at a Boston Foundation forum on June 16.

"We believe a culture of health requires honing in on some key issues," said Allison F. Bauer, the Foundation's director of Health and Wellness and a co-author of the report, titled Five Year Review and Five Priorities for the Future. The report identifies key areas that have the potential to significantly improve public health in the Commonwealth: early childhood, youth physical activity, access to healthy food, transportation and smart growth and a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. It also reviews the state's progress, or lack of progress, on health-related indicators since 2011. Read on
Nominations are Open!
The 143rd APHA Annual Meeting is fast approaching. This year's meeting is being held in Chicago, IL, from October 31 through November 4. MPHA Executive Director, Rebekah Gewirtz, will be attending the conference and participating in affiliate day on October 31. The Annual Meeting is a great opportunity to network with public health professionals and learn about the latest public health research.


APHA is now accepting nominations for Council of Affiliates awards to be presented at the Reception. Do you know an outstanding leader in public health? Nominate him or her for an award. Are you particularly impressed with an APHA affiliate, nominate that affiliate for Affiliate of the Year.  Get involved - the deadline for nominations is July 31!  Read on 

Local Partners Speak on Behalf of Mass Food Trust at Economic Development Listening Sessions
On Thursday June 25th, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash held six Economic Development Plan Listening Sessions across the state. The listening sessions occurred simultaneously in Worcester, Springfield, Quincy, Lynn, West Barnstable, and Lowell, and were facilitated by the Secretary's staff.


The sessions were intended to "provide businesses and constituents an opportunity to help shape the Commonwealth's economic development plan." MPHA staff coordinated speakers at 4 out of the 6 sessions, with local advocates speaking on behalf of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program. Participants stressed the value of the program for not only improving access to healthy foods in our communities, but for increasing jobs and economic development as well. Read on

Gov. Opioid Task Force Findings Highlight Prevention Strategies

MPHA is pleased to see that Governor Baker's Opioid Task Force highlights prevention strategies to address our state's public health epidemic.The report, Recommendations of the Governor's Opioid Working Group, found that prevention will be key in reducing youth drug use and in curbing addiction stemming from prescriptions for painkillers. The report outlines a need for prevention education in schools, education for parents around the signs of addiction and how to monitor prescriptions for teens, improving the state's prescription monitoring program and increasing public awareness.


The Task Force also recommends supporting alternate pain therapies as a long-term prevention strategy. Read on

National Health Equity Index to be Developed to Chart Progress to Good Health
The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) will create a National Health Equity Index in the coming year. This project will serve as a way to assess the connectedness of important health determinants like housing and employment in order to identify promising points of prevention and to build collaboration across sectors.


The index will focus on the structural inequalities that lead to health disparities by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. It will document differences in access and quality of seven determinants of health, including: health care, education, the environment, income, employment, housing, and safety, and examine them in the context of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, and primary language spoken. The analysis of these relationships will help inform policy and systems changes for the advancement of health equity and show where cross-sector collaboration can help achieve these policy and systems changes. Read on

Spotlight: BNHC and Vicente's Tropical Grocery
Spotlight series highlights MPHA partners and friends from across the state who are changing lives and communities to improve health and advance health equity. This month we are highlighting an innovative new partnership between the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and Vicente's Tropical Grocery in Brockton, MA.  


In June MPHA's Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz and Coalition and Field Organizer Kristina St. Cyr visited Brockton, MA to meet with partners at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC).  Rebekah and Kristina met with Sue Joss, Executive Director for the BNHC, who shared with them details of an exciting and innovative collaboration for the betterment of community health. This exciting collaboration was between the BNHC and local grocery store owner, Jason Barbosa, of Vicente's Tropical Grocery.


With the help of Federal Healthy Food Financing dollars and the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center as a partner, Vicente's was able to close the deal on a previously abandoned building and lot in downtown Brockton to open a brand new grocery store. Due to this strategic partnership the BNHC prevented the installment of another fast food chain in the neighborhood-instead of a fast food chain, the space will be shared with a new BNHC clinic. Read on

Save the Date
MPHA Open House on September 17, 2015

Save the Date for an Open House on Thursday, September 17, 2015! Join us in our new office from 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm at 14 Beacon Street, Suite 706, for refreshments, appetizers, networking, and a great view of the State House! 

Kindly RSVP to Kara Keenan at: or (857) 263-7072, x113.  

Public Health Happenings
Public Health events & opportunities open to you!

New Tool: The MA Coalition FinderCommunity Health Training Institute has created a tool that makes it easy to find coalitions working towards healthier communities in Massachusetts.

7.15.15: Sharing your Success: Visualizing Outcomes Data. Hosted by Mel King Institute, UMass Boston, 1-5pm. Register here

7.20.15: Letters of Intent due for The Tufts Health Plan Foundation for its Policy and Advocacy cycle of community investments. More information here.

7.24.15: Nominations due for the Edna Award and Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Award. Awards are sponsored by The Berger-Marks Foundation and are intended to honor young women on the front lines of social justice and workers' rights. Nominate someone today

7.29.15: Sharing your Success: Visualizing Outcomes DataHosted by Mel King Institute, Clark University, Worcester, 1-5pm. Register here

7.30.15: Opening of the Boston Public Market. 100 Hanover Street above the Haymarket MBTA station. More information here

7.31.15: APHA Award Nominations are due.  More information here.


8.11-13.15: Ninth Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media. Sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition. Hyatt Regency Atlanta, GA. More information and registration here
The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is the champion for public health in the Commonwealth. We are the catalyst for change, eliminating health inequities and creating healthy communities for all. For more information, visit us at or call 857.263.7072.