Health Policy and Management Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumna at APHA

The breadth of the research presented at this year’s American Public Health Association meeting held in San Diego by faculty, alumni, students and staff of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management illustrates the wide range of issues and topics actively being researched at the department. An event associated with the conference highlighting schools that excel in experiential learning and culminating experiences also featured the Milken Institute SPH.

Joel Teitelbaum, JD, LLM was a featured speaker at an event focusing on current and emerging Issues in health law. His presentation, “A discussion Concerning the Legal and Structural Causes of Health Injustice,” highlighted the legal doctrines and structural factors that negatively influence the health and well-being of individuals and communities and contribute to a range of health disparities, the subject of his recent book. “In order to break down these unnatural causes of poor health, we must talk openly about how they came to be; who benefits from their perpetuation; and what can be done about them,” he says.

Shavon Dickerson, who earned her DrPH in '13, moderated a session titled “Partnerships to Advance Health Equity for Children and Adolescents.” The speakers were from institutions including the Georgia Department of Public Health, Loma Linda University, the University of Chicago, and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Notable work by students and alumni
Maliha Ali, who received her DrPH in May and is now a researcher at the American Institutes for Research, presented a poster titled “Role of Social and Clinical Determinants in Frequent Utilization of Emergency Departments.” The work focuses on a high-cost, high-need group of patients with multiple illnesses and poor health outcomes who comprise less than 10% of emergency department (ED) patients but account for a quarter of ED visits. The study concludes that curbing ED use by frequent utilizers of EDs will require a two-pronged approach: adequate and coordinated ambulatory care for those most at risk as well as attention to specific social determinants they experience. It was submitted in the Delta Omega category, and Ali received a Delta Omega award for it as well as a small Capitol Connection Fund award from GWU to support travel to the conference.

Joy Eckert, who worked for the Department of Health Policy and Management while she was a student pursuing her MPH in epidemiology, gave an oral presentation about her paper, which was selected as one of the five most highly rated student papers in the Medical Care section. It was titled “Characteristics of Trials Associated with Drugs Approved by the FDA in 2015 and 2016.” Eckert has graduated and recently accepted a position as a public health analyst in the DC Department of Health’s department of Health Regulation and Licensing Administration. She is working on projects related to opioid overdoses in DC and the prescription drug monitoring program.

Alexandra Kearly (MPH health policy ’16) gave an oral presentation, “Successes and Lessons from the CDC’s 6|18 Initiative: Medicaid-Public Health Partnerships to Improve Health and Control Costs.” She presented on behalf of her employer, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, where she is a senior analyst for Clinical to Community Connections, along with a co-presenter from the Center for Healthcare Strategies. “The initiative promotes adoption of evidence-based interventions in collaboration with health care purchasers, payers, and providers,” she explains. Her talk highlighted program accomplishments including a project in Minnesota that helped increase provider, enrollee, and community-based organizations’ awareness and use of free Medicaid tobacco cessation benefits and services.

Bhakthi Sahgal (MPH health policy ’15) presented “Influence of Vulnerability on Patient Experience and Preferences in Family Planning Care.” Her work suggests that efforts to improve the quality of family planning care should focus on the varying experiences and preferences of women at across multiple levels of vulnerability.

The Milken Institute SPH excels at experiential learning
At an event put on by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and held in conjunction with the APHA meeting, Sara Wilensky, JD, PhD, presented “CEPH Compliance: Undergraduate Experiential Learning and Culminating Experience.”  The panel discussion highlighted schools that CEPH identified as excelling in the areas of experiential learning and culminating experiences. “GW's BSPH program was recognized for its high-quality, writing-intensive senior seminar, new community needs assessment senior seminar option, and service learning elective course,” says Wilensky, who directs the school’s undergraduate program in public health and is affiliated with the Department of Health Policy and Management. “Milken Institute SPH students benefit tremendously from GW's strong curriculum and opportunities to engage the community as the only school of public health located in the nation's capital.”

Other alumni who attended the conference included Nelly S. Angah, (MHA@GW ’18), Nancy V. Edwards (MHA@GW '18), Rebecca J. Johnson (MPH '12), Alison Manson (MPH '11), Bryce Mendez (BA'08, MPH '10), Cassandra S. Thompson (MPH '16), and Bridget A. Verrette (MPH '11). Anita Rangaswami (MPH '17) was also at the conference and led an official yoga session there. They were among the many faculty, staff, students and alumni at the conference who attended the school’s annual get-together event.