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Mosaic of Public Health Holds Annual Meeting in Augusta

Augusta, Maine -

AUGUSTA— In a time of great changes to America’s health care system, the Maine Public Health Association held its 26th Annual Meeting to examine the ways in which the many facets of public health work together to complete the health care puzzle and improve the lives of Maine people.

“We as Mainers, Americans, are experiencing great change to our health care and public health system,” explained Executive Director, Tina Pettingill of the Maine Public Health Association to the more than 250 attendees, “the success of these changes will be determined by how we go about putting the pieces of this public health puzzle together; how we plan to sustain and expand; how we as a public health community work together to ensure the good health of present and future generations.”

Sustainability and collaboration were common themes among the conversations and presentations at the organization’s annual meeting. One of the most exciting announcements came from outgoing MPHA president Shawn Yardley and Dr. Dervilla McCann, chair of Health Policy Partners of Maine, an organization known for political advocacy pertaining to tobacco control and obesity prevention. “The Maine Public Health Association has had a very active policy committee, and today we are happy to announce that we will be merging with Health Policy Partners of Maine, an organization with more than 25 years of service in the State House and around Maine,” stated Yardley in his opening address. “I’m proud that after many months of discussions, we have committed to such a sustainable, intelligent merger. This shift in our structure is ever more important in these economic times and political uncertainty,” stated Dr. McCann. The merger of the two organizations, each of which has been operating in Maine each for more than 25 years, became official at the close of the announcement.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Nicole Witherbee of PolicyEdge and Bates College, spoke to the meetings theme, discussing the diverse impact of America’s food system, “Sustainable agriculture has a significant impact on the environment, social and economic equity and safety of the food our families and communities ingest. There is no one area that is more important than the other, nor can we ignore one area of a sustainable agricultures impact ecologically or socially.” Dr. Witherbee’s keynote address spoke to the importance of tackling the obesity epidemic by reviewing our existing food system from “field to fork” including a review of how food is produced to how it is prepared for consumption. “The public health community can change the tone of the debate around food systems, leading to rich, sustainable changes to our community and reducing obesity and malnutrition in America.”

Throughout the day, attendees met to discuss important current public health issues in Maine, and learned of the benefits found in collaborative efforts regarding subjects such as medication access, indoor air quality, substance abuse prevention and treatment, emergency preparedness, oral health care, school nutrition and other pressing public health concerns throughout the state. Attendees also participated in conversations regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“health care reform”), and how the new federal legislation impacted Maine’s public health community as a whole.

Recognition awards were presented to persons and programs that have made a significant impact on public health in Maine over the past year. This year’s Ruth S. Shaper Memorial Award went to Lauri Sidelko, the Director of Alcohol and Drug Education Programs at the University of Maine in for her dedication and intensive hard work in helping to pass the Orono campus’s tobacco-free policy. The Public Health Program of Excellence Award was shared by Home Health and Community Health Nursing Services program and the Maine Newborn Hearing program, both for dedication to providing necessary public health services to their communities.

The Maine Public Health Association seeks to create an environment which sustains and improves the health and well-being of Maine residents. Its diverse membership has a common interest in the promotion and protection of the public’s health through service, education, & advocacy.

MPHA was formed in 1984 and is an affiliate of the American Public Health Association which represents thousands of health professionals’ nationally. MPHA’s diverse membership includes concerned citizens, students, professionals, businesses, and agencies.

To learn more about MPHA and our members, please visit, www.mainepublichealth.org

For More Information:

Contact Name: Tina Pettingill, Executive Director

Telephone Number: (207)730-1040

Website: http://www.mainepublichealth.org

Email: tinapettingill@gmail.com