General Session Recap
Lillian Shirley, incoming NACCHO president, introduced today''s opening general session at 8:15 AM by explaining that NA11 will showcase LHDs addressing the all-too-common economic challenges faced by public health this year. Shirley introduced Hartford''s mayor, Pedro Segarra. He thanked participants for choosing Hartford and described the city''s innovations in public health.
The session''s first speaker, Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, MPA, is Connecticut''s state health commissioner. She encouraged participants to not simply think about how to "cut the pie differently" to ensure public health receives funding for its work, but also to think about how to "make the pie bigger" so the field can adequately address all the determinants of health. She commended Connecticut''s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, for his support of public health and concluded by reading his proclamation supporting NA11.
Eduardo J. Sanchez, MD, MPH, the session''s second speaker, described the US health care system with a presentation called "A Tale of Two Systems." He described our well-resourced but disorganized health service delivery system and the woefully undervalued public health system. While speaking positively about the recently-passed Affordable Care Act, Dr. Sanchez explained that financial crises have led to challenging times in the field of public health. He concluded his presentation by describing the importance of recognizing the social determinants of health and describing the need to unify the public health system and the medical care system into one integrated "health system."
Todd Park, the chief technology officer with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was the session''s third speaker. His presentation, "Unleashing the Power of Data and Innovation to Improve Health," described the Health Data Initiative, a major campaign to make health data accessible to all. He explained the great capacity of data that HHS is "letting loose" to inspire innovation in the field.
The opening general session inspired participants and set the conference off to an energetic start. Mr. Park caught the audience''s attention when he mentioned the community health indicators that are freely available. Dr. Sanchez garnered applause when he explained that despite the medical oath to "do no harm," the nation is doing harm by dismantling and defunding public health. This conference is sure to provide much more useful information about ways to move public health forward in these challenging times.