Session Recap: Closing General Session
Closing General Session
11:45 AM–1:00 PM
Lillian Shirley, NACCHO President, opened the closing session by informing the audience that while Richard Blumenthal, Rosa DeLauro, and John Larson, all of Connecticut, had been planning to attend today’s closing session, they were unable to come as they are in Washington working with Congress to raise the debt ceiling. She then proceeded to call NACCHO conference attendees to action. She told us that in order to move public health forward in these challenging times, we must increase our visibility and advocacy efforts with Congress, telling stories that show why public health is an important and essential investment.
Bobby Pestronk then took the stage to announce the winner of the Nancy Rawding Award, which is given to NACCHO’s employee of the year. This year’s recipient is Lilly Kan, Senior Program Analyst for the infectious disease Program. Bobby recognized Lilly’s commitment to public health, listing projects in which her participation has been instrumental. He also highlighted her enthusiasm, good nature, and the wide respect of her co-workers.
Lillian Shirley returned to the stage to motivate the audience to confront these difficult times head on, by improving systems and increasing accountability and accreditation efforts. She implored the audience to create and define our narrative, focusing on issues with the greatest impact, and moving toward working in a systems-focused environment.
The next speaker was Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Lurie talked about recent events in tornado-ravaged Joplin, MO, where preparedness training was effectively deployed in an emergency situation where the medical infrastructure had been destroyed. She pointed to adaption of new technologies, such as electronic medical records, the use of social media to connect needs with resources in the community, and strong partnerships between organizations as major components in the response effort that can be applied more broadly to all facets of public health, in order to improve and innovate what we do in our communities.
The final speaker was John Auerbach, Commissioner of Public Health for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and President of ASTHO. Auerbach continued the theme of using partnerships as we navigate the rapidly changing public health environment, focusing specifically on bolstering the relationship between NACCHO and ASTHO.
Shirley concluded the conference by thanking all of the people who made the conference possible, including NACCHO, the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services, and sponsors, particularly the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She also reminded us to focus not on where we are in public health, but where we are going, as we move forward together in these challenging times.
The 2012 NACCHO Annual Conference will be held in Los Angeles July 11–13, 2012. See you there!