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PRCHN Connection 
Summer 2020

Director's Note


Like many of you, our PRCHN team continues to "stay safe at home" and work remotely due to COVID-19. Each week, we come together at noon on Tuesday to check in on one another, and at the end of our call we take a quick screenshot picture, like the one below, to document what we are experiencing together. During our calls, we have shared how we are personally adapting during this time (lots of baking) as well as how we have been challenged to think differently about both how we approach our work and what our work means in the context of COVID-19. 

In this quarter's newsletter, we share with you a bit about how we are extending our usual summer food retail data collection to understand food access for Cleveland residents at this time, and we highlight the opportunity that our CWRU colleagues have had in supporting our local health departments with their COVID-19 response. And while many things are new due to COVID-19, we also highlight aspects of our work that continue, including our partnership with the Ohio Department of Health in executing the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey, preparation and review of our 2020 Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, the graduation of two of our CWRU MPH students, and the welcoming of new members to our PRCHN team.

Erika S. Trapl, PhD
Associate Professor, Dept. of Population & Quantitative Health Sciences
Director, Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods
Associate Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
COVID-19's Impact on Cleveland Food Retail

Summer has always been a fun time at the PRCHN as our staff nearly doubles in size as we welcome a fresh wave of excited students, eager to learn new skills and contribute to the important work we do at our Center. Many of these fresh faces compose our data collection team for the Neighborhood Environment Assessment Project (NEAP) and for the past 8 years have been the driving force behind the annual in-store audits of the Cleveland Food Retail Project.

The focus of this project is to collect food and tobacco availability data in addition to store characteristics for every food retail location within city limits in order to record the changes within the food landscape in Cleveland over time-- everything from grocery stores, corner stores, and gas stations to fast food, restaurants and bars. To date, this large-scale data collection has recorded yearly-data for over 2,000 unique locations since 2012 with data collectors not only conducting these annual audits of known businesses, but driving up and down each street within the city to note locations of newly opened locations. Through this effort, the PRCHN has learned a great deal about the state of food access in Cleveland.

However, like many things in our lives right now, COVID-19's impact has presented us with an opportunity to re-imagine this summer's project. We're excited to complete this data collection in a new way while also being able to capture information on the direct effect perceived by those working in the stores in our community. Through phone calls, we intend to understand who's operating in business during this time to provide much needed access to food, and what the impact of the pandemic on the stores seems to be in the opinion of store employees. And hopefully, when it is safe to go back into the stores, we will continue to conduct our in-store audits. We are also looking to develop new techniques that would allow residents to be "citizen scientists" providing valuable information about the status of these neighborhood assets. 

While our approach will change, the purpose and potential impact of this project is well aligned with what we've always aimed to do: understand the local food landscape and provide valuable data to both community partners and researchers to develop, implement and tailor evidence-based interventions that serve for the betterment of our community.

Interested in more information on COVID's effect on Cleveland's Food System?
2019 Local YRBS Data Modules 
Coming Soon

The 2019 Cuyahoga County High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey project completed data collection earlier this school year. Preliminary results were shared with the YRBS Community Advisory Committee during our first-ever exclusively virtual meeting on Thursday, April 30th. We anticipate posting all  2019 modules to our website before the end of May.

Public Health in Action   
At the forefront supporting local health departments response to COVID-19 

Faculty and students from the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Services are supporting Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH) in tracking cases of COVID-19 from confirmed patients to people who may be carrying the virus without knowing it.

Early in the pandemic our MPH Program established a working group of MPH faculty, including  Daniel Tisch, PhD, Scott Frank, MD,  Peter Zimmerman, PhD, and Karen Mulloy, DO, MSHC , to provide advice on public health concerns on campus and throughout greater Cleveland. These local experts have backgrounds in infectious disease epidemiology medicine, and public health both in the US and globally.

Led by Dr. Daniel Tisch, this team is aiding the city health department using phone-based tracing to identify and notify people who may be at a higher risk of infection due to their exposure to someone known to have contracted coronavirus. You may have heard more about this contact tracing in recent news stories from large metropolitan areas around the country who are launching similar projects. As in all public health research, strict processes and procedures are put in place to ensure each individual's privacy while balancing each person's need to have the best information about self-quarantine practices. "In the absence of wide-spread testing, this kind of tracing is essential in trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, which can have dramatic and even fatal outcomes for vulnerable people in the greater Cleveland community - and even out of the county if infected people travel or commute," said Tisch. "Faculty and students are also assisting the CDPH with support work, given the need to flex up rapidly to meet the community response."

One of these students is former PRCHN graduate assistant, Vinh Trinh. You may have read about Vinh in 2019 when his poster "Health Data Matters: Mapping Opioid-Related Deaths in Cuyahoga County" won 3rd place at the CWRU Health Innovations Conference. With Dr. Tisch, Vinh has been creating reports for the COVID response team at CDPH using data collected from people who test positive for COVID-19 living in the city of Cleveland.  

Vinh provides the team with demographic tables and data visualizations such as maps so they can see trends and share this information in a more understandable and meaningful way with other groups. In addition, they are looking at large clusters of cases and the distribution of any symptoms people experienced. This information is critical to understanding more about the virus and its effects on our local population. "I'm grateful to CDPH for trusting me to work on these data and support the response team. The experience has been sobering as we watch the number of reported cases and deaths grow," says Vinh.
Heidi Gullett, MD, MPH, Associate Director of the Center for Community Health Integrations (CHI) at CWRU is also the incident commander for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH). For more than 4 years, Dr. Gullet has been embedded as the School of Medicine population health liaison at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and remains on the front lines of epidemiological control of the pandemic here. Recently, our hospital affiliates agreed to share data and modeling assumptions, and to work with CHI faculty member Johnnie Rose and team he assembled including members of the Department of Applied Mathematics here at Case, to create a unified predictive model for our region. These models improve accuracy for those assessing the timing of the end of restrictions to decide when in-person classes and clinical rotations can resume.
For additional up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit:
CDC Novel Coronavirus Information:
ODH Coronavirus Information:
Partnering with Ohio Department of Health
PRCHN to develop & manage web-based platform for YRBS/YTS 2021

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods was recently awarded a one-year contract with the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Maternal, Child and Family Health to develop and manage a web-based platform for the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior/ Youth Tobacco Survey in 2021. 
The PRCHN has a long history of collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, particularly with data collection and technical assistance. Inherent in this is recognition that robust data benefits all and the expertise of the PRCHN in this can be put to good use. The PRCHN team understands the state and national Youth Risk Behavior Survey/Youth Tobacco Survey data also shed important light on our local data. For the past 10 years, PRCHN has guaranteed that the participation rate for county school districts selected to be part of the statewide YRBS/YTS sample exceeds 80%, thus doing our part to ensure that Ohio has weight-able data.
The Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Maternal, Child and Family Health, decided that in 2021, their statewide sample of schools would be given the opportunity to participate via a web-based platform. The  PRCHN Adolescent Evaluation and Surveillance Team's track record of implementing an electronic survey process in conjunction with its experience working with a CDC/DASH approved execution of a web-based platform met all the requirements for the award  
Beginning in July, 2020 the PRCHN will partner with ODH and their Columbus-based YRBS contractor Strategic Research Group to manage the platform that permits web-based survey completion by students in the sample schools that so choose. The PRCHN will build all components for an online survey using the questionnaires approved by ODH. Successful completion will rely heavily on the strong communication and collaborative relationships maintained among the groups.  Integration of an electronic completion option is expected to lead to a successful survey administration that provides additional guidance in setting an adolescent health agenda statewide. 
Rebekkah Russell
2019 Conference
Congratulations Capstone Students
PQHS Public Health Innovations Conference

The Spring 2020 Innovations in Population Health Conference, held each fall and spring, was held virtually for the first time April 15-16. This conference is an opportunity for graduating Masters in Public Health students to showcase their work on their Culminating Experience through a poster and oral presentation.

Congratulations to our Capstone Students:

Rebekkah Russell, Integration of behavioral health screening into a brief food access and nutrition intervention in retail stores. Training Period: 08/2018 - 05/2020.
And her poster was accepted for the upcoming Ohio Public Health Conference!


Samantha Meluch, Engaging youth in retail audits to promote local point-of-sale policy. Training Period: 08/2018 - 05/2020.

Welcome to the Team!
Say hello to the most recent  additions to the PRCHN 
Stephanie Moore PhD
Center Analyst
Sarang Park
Graduate Assistant
PRCHN Monthly Seminar Series 

The remaining 2019-2020 Seminar Series has been rescheduled.
We are working on the full 2020-2021 schedule. Please note that we are preparing to present virtual seminars if necessary.

What Have PRCHN Faculty and Staff Been up To?


Freedman DA, Bell BA, Clark J, Ngendahimana D, Borawski EA, Trapl ES , Pike S, and Sehgal AR. Small Improvements in an Urban Food Environment Resulted in No Changes in Diet Among Residents . J Community Health. Mar 13, 2020.
Zahnd WE, Petermann V, Teal R, Vu M, Vanderpool RC, Rohweder C, Farris PE, Askelson N, Stradtman L, Koopman Gonzalez SJ, Vu T, Eberth JM, Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network Rural Cancer Workgroup. Financial Navigation: Staff Perspectives on the Patients' Financial Burden of Cancer Care. American Society of Preventive Oncology 44th Annual Meeting. 22-24 March 2020. Tucson, AZ [online only abstract].

Zahnd WE, Petermann V, Teal R, Vu M, Vanderpool RC, Rohweder C, Askelson N, Edward JE, Farris PE, Koopman Gonzalez SJ, Ko LK, Eberth JM. Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network Rural Cancer Workgroup. Interventions to Address the Financial Burden of Cancer Care: Recommendations from the Field.  American Society of Preventive Oncology 44th Annual Meeting. 22-24 Mar 2020. Tucson, AZ [poster]

Trapl ES, VanFrank B, Kava C, Trinh V*, Land S, Williams R, Frost E, Babb S. Smoking and cessation behaviors in patients at federally funded health centers - United States, 2014. American Society for Preventive Oncology, 2020, Tucson, AZ.

Trapl ES, Osborn C, Kinsella A, Frank J. Role of Assets in Cigarette, Cigar Product, and E-Cigarette Use Among Adolescents. Soc. Res. Nicotine Tobacco Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. Mar 11, 2020..
The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhood's mission is to foster partnerships within Cleveland's urban neighborhoods for developing, testing, and implementing strategies to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic disease.