The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK) co-hosted the Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey: A Systems Approach to Promoting Population Health Conference on Wednesday, November 29th at Pines Manor in Edison, NJ.
“Our goal is to help communities create policy and environmental changes that address social determinants of health and improve overall health outcomes for New Jersey families,“ stated Dr. Darrin Anderson, State Program Director, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK).
NJPHK’s State Program Director Dr. Darrin Anderson kicked off the event attended by more than 500 public health professionals, social workers, educators, dietitians, and community leaders from across the state. This year’s conference — one of the largest Public Health Conferences in New Jersey — had the largest attendance ever! Anderson lauded attendees for their partnership and commitment and advised them to “Bring home the difference you see today to motivate and inspire others to be champions for the Culture of Health.”
Acting Health Commissioner Christopher R. Rinn explained that his background in Emergency Preparedness had taught him the importance and value of collaborating with critical partners to break down barriers, address disparities, mitigate difficulties and accomplish goals. “When dealing with complex health issues, no one can go it alone,” Rinn stated. “Partnering to promote prevention, wellness and equity will give residents and visitors the opportunity to thrive. A healthier community is a more resilient community. Together, we must drive awareness at both the grassroots level and at the highest level of government.”
Marjorie Paloma, RWJF Senior Program Officer and Director told conference attendees, “We are at a pivotal moment in Building a Culture of Health. We have done a lot, learned a lot and still have a lot to do.” She said it would take partnership, leadership and playing the long game. She challenged attendees to return to their communities committed to addressing three challenges: 1) get out of the comfort zone; connect with strangers and learn what drives them; 2) identify who else should be in the room to transform or elevate the work; and 3) reconnect with others in the community and engage in real conversations about issues, problems, and solutions.
Dr. Mikhail (Mike) Varshavski, our first featured speaker, is a family medicine physician with Atlantic Health System. And as “Dr. Mike,” he is the most followed doctor on social media with a combined following of over 3.5 million. Dr. Mike had valuable and eye-opening insights to share about general health, social media and how to combine the two to deliver critical messages to audiences in a way that will entertain, impart knowledge, correct misinformation, heighten curiosity to learn more and, in time, change behavior.
“Those in public health must translate complex issues and answers into language and examples that can captivate and resonate with the people who need to hear and act on the messages,” said Dr. Mike. “There are millions of people on social media and leveraging that power can greatly contribute to building a Culture of Health.”
If the 500+ attendees were a committed and focused group at the start of the day, by the end of the talk by our second featured speaker, Joetta Clark Diggs, the energy in the room was over the top. Everyone was on their feet, clapping, smiling, and cheering. Clark Diggs shared life lessons learned in the track and field arena and on Olympic courses where she competed in 800- and 1500-meter races. She argued that by being the best you can be, you help everyone: “Being a champion means you can make a difference in the lives of others,” Clark Diggs said. Her agenda for Getting It Done (GID) is predicated on the “five Ps”: Purpose, Preparation, Patience, getting Perturbed by setbacks and always Persevering.
“People will discourage you because they look at you through their lenses,” Clark Diggs cautioned. “Just because someone doesn’t see your worth doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy.” She told attendees to embrace change and always “be relevant.” And, she said, “Once you get there, reach back and bring someone else along.”
During the conference, Culture of Health awards were presented in recognition of organizations and individuals who are committed to creating changes that surround kids and families with opportunities to make healthy choices. The 2017 award recipients were:
Valeria Galarza, Senior Project Manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership presented a Culture of Health Champion Award to the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Jeff Brenner, the Camden Coalition has grown from a monthly breakfast group of local providers to a national movement influencing the way that care is delivered to patients with complex health and social needs. The award acknowledges the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers for its use of “healthcare hot-spotting,” an approach that uses data to help drive high quality, comprehensive care, and support services to some of the city’s top utilizers of healthcare. The Camden team has received national accolades for its work and in 2016 launched the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs which brings together a broad range of clinicians, researchers, policymakers, and consumers who are developing, testing, and scaling new models of team-based, integrated care.
Jared Susco accepted the award on behalf of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
Laura Leviton, a senior advisor for evaluation at RWJ Foundation, presented a Culture of Health Champion Award to the family of Mary Ann Scheirer. Dr. Scheirer was an independent consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in evaluation, performance measures, research, and other uses of data to help agencies improve their outcomes. She was instrumental in building the evaluation methodologies for the statewide program office of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids. This included evaluating initiatives such as the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative, Healthy Eating & Physical activity policies and early childcare programs to determine the overall community impact of the initiatives.
Jim Scheirer accepted the award on behalf of his late wife.
This year, attendees were encouraged to take selfies, tweet, and post their favorite moments and key takeaways from the conference. All of the social media activity by attendees, monitored using the #HealthyNJ17 tag, resulted in over 315,000 Twitter impressions (users interacting with and seeing posted content). Six attendees were our top tweeters for the day:
Shilja Mathur (@RDSMathur), Danielle Cooper (@danielleicooper), Orville Morales (@Orville_Morales), Chelsea Jackson (@GreenwoodAveFM), Valerie Merahn Simon (@ValerieSimon), and Chris Kirk (@ChrisKirk)
Our top tweeters received a gift card and complimentary registration for next year. Thank you again to our top tweeters and all participants for helping to spread a culture of health!
The conference is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, New Jersey Department of Health, Rutgers University Family & Community Health Sciences, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, American Academy of Pediatrics—NJ Chapter, Atlantic Health System, Family Health Initiatives, Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Inc., New Jersey Health Initiatives, New Jersey Hospital Association, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, Partners for Health Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Salem Health & Wellness Foundation.