ASTHO Announces 2013 Vision Award Winners

Sep 20, 2013, 09:58 ET from Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) presented its 2013 Vision Awards to the New Jersey Department of Health, Arizona Department of Health Services, and Illinois Department of Public Health. The ASTHO Vision Awards annually recognize outstanding health department programs and initiatives that use creative approaches to address public health needs or problems and to promote awareness and replication of successful state health programs and initiatives.

ASTHO presents Vision Awards in two categories: programs with budgets greater than $250,000 and programs with budgets less than $250,000. Applications are judged by experts and leaders in state public health based on innovation, program effectiveness, and potential for replication.

Budgets greater than $250,000. The New Jersey Department of Health received first place in this category for its innovative HIV Prevention Patient Navigator initiative. Created in January 2012, the initiative aims to further reduce the incidence of HIV infection in New Jersey by rapidly linking people living with HIV to care and subsequent antiretroviral therapy. The navigators serve as "concierges of care" who focus on maintaining patient commitment to the program, adherence with antiretroviral therapeutics, providing assistance to resolve important patient issues, and improving patient retention in the continuum of care.

The Arizona Department of Health Services took second place for its work to address high levels of smoking among people living with mental health challenges by increasing referrals from the behavioral health population to the state's Smokers Help Line (ASHLine). The department's Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease and ASHLine provided tobacco cessation services at 72 outpatient clinics in two counties and trained 1,200 staff members on ASHLine's Ask-Advise-Refer in-service and Webquit programs. In total, 28,000 recipients were reached and more than 1,600 ASHLine referrals were made during fiscal year 2011. Enrollment rates and 30-day quit rates closely mirror those of the general population, refuting the myth that tobacco cessation does not work for people with serious mental illnesses.

Budgets less than $250,000. Taking first place in this category, the Illinois Department of Public Health was honored for its innovative approach to improving its identification of maternal deaths, a project that was led by Nancy Martin of the department's Office of Policy Planning and Statistics. Working with the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Martin developed a standardized investigative protocol that utilizes nontraditional resources to identify maternal deaths, such as online newspaper reports, obituaries, search engines, and online funeral home websites. Martin also worked with the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to develop a chart information checklist that ensures that proper documentation reaches the Illinois Department of Public Health for complete case preparation. This new maternal death identification procedure has resulted in the committee producing more informed case reviews.

The Arizona Department of Health Services won its second 2013 Vision Award for its Telephone-Assisted Resuscitation Gains Essential Time (TARGET) Program, which increases survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by improving the provision of dispatch pre-arrival CPR instructions. Because there is no capital investment, TARGET is unique in its cost-effectiveness, as well as its reach and capacity to measure and improve the emergency response process and patient outcomes. Arizona data indicates the program is achieving its goal. Among agencies for which the department has pre- and post-program implementation data, Arizona has nearly doubled the rate of telephone-assisted bystander CPR and elevated out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival by 5 percent.

ASTHO congratulates its 2013 Vision Award winners for their exemplary state health programs and for achieving excellence in public health through innovation.

ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.

Follow us on Twitter.

SOURCE Association of State and Territorial Health Officials