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August is National Immunization Awareness Month,the perfect time to reflect on why preventing infectious disease outbreaks is good public policy, not to mention the clinical and public safety benefits.
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August 2016 
Groundwater Contamination Risk in Region III 
United States Geological Survey               
National Water Quality Assessment Program

A recent study by the National Water Quality Assessment Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has found that untreated groundwater water in Maryland and a nearly a dozen other states carries a "very high" corrosion risk that could contaminate drinking water.  According to USGS officials, the groundwater being pumped through wells could leach lead into water from lead pipes or fittings. In Maryland, roughly 1 in 6 residents rely on well water, which is currently not subject to lead testing. Prompted by the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the recent USGS study is the first nationwide assessment of  groundwater corrosivity.  
According to the landmark study, communities along the Atlantic coastal plain face the highest risk of corrosive water. In addition to Maryland, other high risk areas in Region III are Delaware and the District of Columbia. Water testing policies can vary from one jurisdiction to another, and the federal government does not regulate private wells for water quality. In Maryland's Anne Arundel and Washington counties, water must be tested to obtain potability certification after wells are dug - but there is no subsequent requirement for testing.The study's full report is available here


NIMHD Director Visits HPRC in Greenbelt, Maryland 
Dr.Perez-Stable, MD,
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
On Friday, July 22, 2016, the HPRC team was honored to host a site visit for Eliseo Pérez -Stable, MD, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). During his visit,  Dr. Pérez-Stable  graciously engaged the team in a robust discussion of HPRC's major projects, including the Health Policy Literacy Study (HPLS), which will create the first-ever scientific measurement of "health policy literacy" among community members and other stakeholders; and the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Pilot Study,which will  investigate the relationship between  CVD and  local food, built, social environments

In addition to HPRC's body of research, Dr. Pérez-Stable's
 also learned about HPRC's major outreach and communications efforts, such as
Health Connect Prince George's , a mobile app for healthy living and accessing health policy information; a regional calendar of community health outreach forums; and a new radio program and video series, both designed to keep local stakeholders attuned to policy news and key health disparity issues. Dr. Pérez-Stable said the site visit was "a valuable opportunity to better understand HPRC's research efforts."The HPRC research office is located in Greenbelt, Maryland, less than 30 minutes from the NIMHD office in Bethesda, Maryland. HPRC's close proximity to NIMHD offers a unique opportunity for NIMHD leadership to take a closer look at research, outreach, and communications efforts underway at HPRC, which is one of the NIMHD's seven Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers or TCCs.
HPRC Highlights Consortium Partnership 
HPRC is pleased to collaborate with the Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland School of Public Health - a key academic consortium partner that will support the team's research efforts and related activities. As a NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center (TCC), HPRC collaborates with a regional consortium of academic institutions, community organizations, service providers and other stakeholders focused on health policy research and the social determinants of health."Our consortium partners are vital to our mission because they provide a hub of scientific expertise, community insight, and outreach support," said Crystal Reed, HPRC Program Director. The Center for Health Equity will focus primarily on developing and implementing the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Study, as well as providing support for the Health Policy Literacy Study (HPLS) and the 150 Years Later Project. The Center for Health Equity will provide scientific support for study designs, implementation, analysis, and reporting. Additionally, the Center will support research translation, replicability, dissemination, and outreach. 

HPRC Initiates Cardiovascular Disease Study
Disadvantage in the Food, Built and Social Environments

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. By 2030, 40.5% of Americans are projected to have some form of CVD.  There are also striking disparities in CVD outcomes by place, race and ethnicity.The HPRC team is preparing to initiate a major mixed methods policy research study that will examine the relationship between cardiovascular health and the food, built, and social (FBS) environments in Prince George's County, Maryland.   The Cardiovascular Health and the Food, Built, and Social Environments Study-also known as the CVD Study-has three main objectives: 

(1)   Determine  community level impact by examining correlations between CVD outcomes, three key risk factors (hypertension, obesity, and smoking) and the County's food, built, and social environments by zip code, using data-sets at local hospitals and community clinics.

(2)  Determine  individual level impact by surveying risk factors among 300 community members.

(3) Conduct focus groups to cull qualitative data that can  inform policies designed to address the identified relationship between CVD and the food, built and social environments. 
Guided by the multidimensional ecosocial theory developed Harvard by social epidemiologist Nancy Kreiger, the study advances CVD research by contextualizing the food, built and social (FBS) environment as a synergistic ecosystem that influences health outcomes.The Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland School of Public Health will serve as the lead consortium partner in developing and implementing The CVD Study.

HPRC Radio Talk on Immunization

On Saturday, August 13, two HPRC experts - Dr. Willarda Edwards and Byron Sogie-Thomas - took to the microphone on Make the Change Radio Show hosted by Patricia Terrell on WOL 1450 AM. Supporting the education goals of National Immunization Awareness Month, Dr. Edwards and Mr. Sogie-Thomas discussed the importance of getting children vaccinated for the new school year.They shared information on shingles, flu, and pneumonia vaccines, and addressed key concerns about health risks (real or perceived) associated with vaccines. Addressing both policy and health care consumer perspectives, Dr. Edwards and Mr. Sogie-Thomas discussed the facilitative role of public policy in providing widespread access to vaccines, how vaccines prevent disease outbreaks, who should take them, why some people would rather not take them, and how effective they are in saving lives and money. Click here to access the Podcast.


White House Report on ACA Pushes for Continued Reform

In a report published on July 11, 2016 by the J ournal of the American Medical Association , President Barack Obama assessed health care reform progress to date and put forth major new policy directions for advancing health care reform in the United States.The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, is the most comprehensive federal health care policy since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.  The President's report noted that the ACA "has made significant progress" in addressing health care access challenges in the U.S., with the uninsured rate declining by 43% between 2010 and 2015.  The report proposes that policymakers "build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs."The full JAMA article is available  here.
 Regional Spotlight
Roger A Mitchell, Jr.,MD, Chief Medical Examiner, Washington, D.C.
Valuable data arrives not only from the living but from the deceased. Indeed, data analysis at the morgue can offer important insights on injury and disease trends - and bring new directions for public policies that can save the living. In Washington, DC, Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr., chief medical examiner, has shown the power of such data. In D.C., Dr. Mitchell ended the city's policy of counting overdose deaths annually, ordering instead that they be tracked within 90 to 120 days, allowing for a speedier identification of emerging drug patterns in specific communities. 

To address the local police department's concern about rising synthetic drug use, Dr. Mitchell's team is now collaborating with the Department of Health and local hospitals to expedite the testing of blood and urine samples of patients suspected of illegal drug use.  At the D.C. Office of the Medical Examiner, Dr. Mitchell manages a staff of 80 and a budget of over $10.5 million.Each year, the office performs roughly 1,000 examinations, including 730 full autopsies - including deaths clas sified as natural causation,accident, homicide, suicide, stillbirth and undetermined. The DC's Office of the Medical  Examiner is one of only 70 offices across the nation to earn full accreditation.
Upcoming Events

HPRC Events:

WHAT 8th Annual Health Literacy Research Conference
WHEN October 13-14, 2016
WHERE :   Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Bethesda, Maryland
Registration is open.Click   here  for more information.
WHAT 29th Annual State Health Policy Conference 
WHEN:  October 17-19, 2016
WHERE:  Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, 600 Commonwealth Place, Pittsburgh, PA 1522
Click here for additional information.
WHAT APHA 2016 Annual Meeting and Exposition 
WHEN:  October 29-Nov 2, 2016
WHERE:  Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Click here for additional information.

Please feel free to contact the HPRC Team at 301.375.2021 with any questions.

Thank you,

The Health Policy Research Consortium

HPRC, a CTIS Inc. division, is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award number #1U54MD008608-01. This content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Health Policy Research Consortium
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Phone: (301) 375-2021