“Being part of the public health network is probably one of the most fun, challenging, and exciting things I’ve ever been affiliated with,” said Public Health Advisory Council Lead, Donna Tighe. “It’s really been a year of growth and hard work.”
The South Central N.H. Public Health Network (PHN) hosted its second annual meeting Tuesday, June 19, at the YMCA of Greater Londonderry. Here, partners of the network gathered to reflect on the efforts of the last year, as well as prioritize what needs to be improved in the coming year.
The South Central PHN is a collaborative of partner agencies that are working to enhance and improve community health and public health services across the region.
Under the leadership of Granite United Way, as the Host Agency and Contract Administrator, Southern Central PHN is comprised of four sub-contractor agencies: Center for Life Management, Community Alliance for Teen Safety, Greater Derry Community Health Services, Parkland Medical Center, and The Upper Room. Together, the agencies work to address their six priorities, which include Healthy Eating and Active Living, Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Injury Prevention, Young Adult Strategies, Substance Misuse Prevention, and Behavioral Healthcare Access.
According to Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way, the South Central PHN is unique, in that it’s the first public health network in the state to be a full partnership model.
“I’m really proud of this community, and it’s been my privilege to watch how people are really making this happen,” he said. “We actually favor this model and we’re starting to do other projects like this all across the state that look at multiple organizations working together to address a common set of goals.”
Although, the South Central PHN is looking to improve. After hearing of the work that had been piloted in the Manchester community, Tighe brought in Laura Quiroga to share some of the programs that had proved successful, in hopes that similar versions could be brought to this community.
Through her experiences as the Local Young Child Wellness Coordinator of the Manchester Community Health Center, as well as the Local Program Director of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Childrens Health), Quiroga primarily focuses on ways to reduce the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). She encouraged the South Central PHN to address ACEs as the underlying cause of many current issues, believing that they are “the single largest public health threat that we are facing today.”
“The more adverse childhood experiences you have, the more likely you are to have poor health and behavioral outcomes as an adult, so the more ACEs the higher the risk,” Quiroga said. “If you think we have a problem now with opioids, just wait. If we do not start looking at what is happening with young children now and what they are experiencing, we are going to be looking at an exponentially worse situation in a generation.”
She went on to explain that by incorporating developmental, social, and emotional screenings earlier and more frequently, children can receive the services they need, and proactively minimize future damage. For more information about Project LAUNCH, visit www.sparknh.com/regional-initiatives/project-launch-manchester or email Quiroga at email@example.com.
Moving forward, the South Central PHN will consider Quiroga’s suggested initiatives, after taking a closer look at the needs of the community. The network will do so by conducting a comprehensive Community Needs Assessment in the Region this fall. The assessment will solicit, listen to, and respond to the voices of residents, as well as identify and fine-tune Priority Areas for Action.
“It’s time to step back and take the actual pulse of the community, talk to the community, find out what the community really is crying out for, and make sure that we do the right thing, as we identify our next set of regional priorities,” said Tighe.
Additionally, the network will work to improve ensuring inclusion across the region, as well as the development of regional leadership. Tighe encourages anyone in the community who is interested in this subject and would like to be part of the conversation to reach out and get involved. For more information, visit www.southcentralphn.org or contact Tighe via email at d.tighe@Southcentralphn.org.