INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – The Governor’s Public Health Commission met Thursday to discuss issues affecting the public health workforce.
Co-chair Judy Monroe, M.D., FAAFP, opened the meeting and noted that the topic of workforce is timely given the current struggles with retention issues across the state and country.
“We need a strong workforce and there is nothing more fundamental to achieving the mission,” she said.
Special guests were Courtney Medlock, MPH, of the Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research and Policy, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Valerie A. Yeager, DrPH, MPhil, from the Department of Health Policy and Management, Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.
Medlock reviewed potential opportunities for public health and the healthcare workforce to combine efforts to improve public health services in Indiana.
“We must talk about the healthcare workforce and the public health workforce in unison. There are multiple roles that overlap,” including physicians, nurses and health educators, she said.
The health department said Medlock and Yeager offered potential areas of focus, including data collection to inform policymaking, developing health workforce strategies for recruitment and retention, and coordination of policies for training and workforces across state agencies.
Allen County Health Administrator Mindy Waldron, BS, REHS, CFSP said the county is behind in terms of workforce based on size.
“In earlier studies, several years ago, we were in the middle of the state. So, keep in mind that we have the second largest city in the state [and] third largest health department. We were in the 50th percentile… we should be in the upper 10% and we’re not,” Waldron said.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box added that public will have multiple opportunities to provide input to the commission. A public comment form has been made available on the commission’s website where Hoosiers can provide feedback on the areas of focus for the commission. Beginning in January, the commission will also conduct statewide listening tours to hear directly from communities.
Governor Eric J. Holcomb established the 15-member commission in August to study Indiana’s public health infrastructure and make recommendations for improvements. The commission is co-chaired by former State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe, who now serves as president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, and former state senator Luke Kenley. Dr. Box serves as secretary, while former Congresswoman Susan Brooks serves as a non-voting citizen advisor.
The commission will examine the strengths and weaknesses of Indiana’s current public health system and make recommendations to improve the delivery of public health services across the state. The commission’s work will focus on areas including emergency preparedness, governance and structure, funding, data and information, healthcare and public health workforce as well as the integration of childhood and adolescent health services.
The commission’s next meeting is Nov. 18 in the History Reference Room at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis. The commission will discuss public health funding and financing.
More information about the commission, including agendas, presenter slides, resources and other materials, can be found at www.in.gov/gphc.
Executive Order 21-21, which established commission, can be found here.
The CDC defines public health with a quote on its website: Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private communities, and individuals.” CEA Winslow.