APHA 2020 Theme - Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence
The North Dakota Public Health Association (NDPHA) is an organization that gives a voice to public health matters and provides opportunities to partner, create new vision, and be an instrument affecting the health status for citizens all across the state. It is a conduit to bring together persons interested in public health for the purpose of fostering a better understanding of public health problems and practices and to facilitate the interchange of ideas relating to methods for solutions of these problems. NDPHA aids in the promotion of state and local legislation in the interest of public health with particular focus on the interrelationship between health and quality of life.
2020 NDPHA Awardees
Congratulations to these incredible public health workers for their accomplishments and for making lasting change in their communities! Every year NDPHA gives out the following awards to its members: Public Health Worker of the Year, Public Health Team of the Year, and the Outstanding Service Award.
Public Health Worker of the Year
goes to Michael Dulitz from Grand Forks Public Health
The 2020 NDPHA Award for Public Health Worker of the Year is awarded to Michael Dulitz. Michael has done game changing work in Grand Forks and North Dakota to provide addiction treatment, increase community connections, and reduce the stigma of mental illness and addiction. Since becoming a staff member at Grand Forks Public Health in 2017, Michael has changed our community in astonishing ways! His unique background as a paramedic, combined with his education in sociology and public health, has created significant progress in our community.
Through his work with the opioid response grant, he has been the catalyst to the accomplishment of the following activities, programs and events: provided extensive training and placement of naloxone in numerous public venues throughout Grand Forks County, including schools, libraries, and health care facilities; encouraged law enforcement professionals to carry naloxone in order to respond more quickly to an overdose and found ways to conveniently carry it in extreme weather situations; developed an on-line education program for the administration of naloxone; worked with Spectra Health to help them develop a medication assisted treatment program that has been highly successful and allows patients to receive care close to home; promoted the peer support training program to the recovery community and health professionals; created resource cards with instructions for naloxone administration and treatment programs; partnered with the ONE Rx program to bring education to local pharmacists; created infographics on overdose data and one page documents that are compelling and create a call to action; mentored three students in the UND MPH program to complete a data report on substance use, conduct opioid response activities, and develop a syringe service program plan; was an active member of the Call to Action led by the Mayor’s Office and is now serving on the leadership of the newly formed Mental Health Matters coalition and convened a round table on addiction with Rep. Armstrong and community leaders which was covered by numerous media outlets and gained attention on social media. Michael has convened numerous stakeholder meetings, held networking dinners with experts, conducted media interviews, communicated creatively with policy makers, and listened to others intently – all with passion and compassion.
During the past two years, Michael has fundamentally changed the way people in our community speak about addiction, substance use disorders and mental health. He encourages “people first” language that is not stigmatizing and adheres to a science based approach to his work – using both data and stories. He is respected by professionals and people in recovery and creates environments of trust. Above all, Michael believes in many paths to recovery and supports people along their journey. His efforts have been largely directed at changing systems and institutions – all in the name of changing and saving lives. The NDPHA would like to congratulate Michael for his contributions to public health and recognize him with the 2020 NDPHA Public Health Worker of the Year.
Public Health Team of the Year
goes to the Mandan Good Neighbor Project from Custer Health
The 2020 NDPHA Award for Public Health Team of the Year is awarded to the Mandan Good Neighbor Project at Custer Health. This team includes Jodie Fetsch, Jenn Pelster, Becca Nielsen, Steph Sneed, Kaitlin Weiss, Jade Gross and Carla Miller. The staff at Custer Health, led by Jodie Fetsch, over the last two years have developed and implemented a syringe service program aimed at reducing the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C infection in their community. This program has blossomed into a program that has exceeded all expectations. The Mandan Good Neighbor Project has created a safe and effective public health intervention for persons who inject drugs in the community to receive prevention and care services. They recount that when starting to think about how to address rising rates of infection from hepatitis C in their community, the research on the effectiveness of syringe service programs couldn’t be dismissed. The staff were proactive and testified in favor of new legislation that legitimized these types of programs in the state.
The staff were the first to submit and be authorized to operationalize a program in North Dakota. This did not come without a lot of work and effort to build consensus within the community, educate and get buy in from community leaders and hold steadfast in what they knew was right even in the face of opposition. Since opening, the Mandan Good Neighbor Project has served over 240 people and continue to see their program grow. This program has had success in ensuring people who are disease free remain so while continuing to use injecting equipment, along with linking individuals to treatment services, providing other medical referrals and building trust within their community. The fact that they continue to grow and see people returning week after week is testament to their professionalism and respect they show to their clients. The NDPHA would like to congratulate the Mandan Good Neighbor Project for their amazing public health achievements and recognize them with the 2020 NDPHA Public Health Team of the Year.
(For Public Health Team of the Year Photo: Back Row: Kaitlin Weiss, Jade Gross, Jenn Pelster, Becca Nielsen and Steph Sneed, Front Row: Carla Miller and Jodie Fetsch)
Outstanding Service Award
goes to Debbie Swanson from Grand Forks Public Health
The 2020 NDPHA Award for Outstanding Service is awarded to Debbie Swanson. Debbie Swanson is a UND Nursing alumnus (1980) and she earned her master’s in nursing in 2013. Early on, Debbie made public health nursing her career. She was the Director of Nursing and Nutrition Programs for the City of Grand Forks from 1996 to 2015. During that time, she was an exemplary employee for public health nursing by leading many innovations. In 1985, her first month of working in public health, the first case of HIV was identified in North Dakota. This shaped her commitment to a social justice approach to public health, which has driven her work to this day. She was a big part of transforming public health from a deliverer of primary care direct services, to delivering what became known as the ten essential services of public health. Debbie has always been progressive and established Grand Forks Public Health as a leader.
She became director of the Grand Forks Public Health Department in 2015. Debbie is an active proponent of tobacco control, including the signing of the Clean Indoor Air Act for North Dakota in 1987. Grand Forks became a pioneer in tobacco control by establishing the first tobacco vending machine ordinance in 1990. Debbie is committed to the next generation of public health leaders and she serves on the UND MPH program advisory committee. She has a reputation for hiring and empowering young public health professionals and helping them begin their public health careers. She is also a proponent of student involvement in the Dakota Conference, and APHA. Debbie has also established a national reputation while serving as the Affiliate Representative to the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association. The NDPHA would like to congratulate Debbie for her amazing public health achievements and recognize her with the 2020 NDPHA Outstanding Service Award.
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Relationship with the American Public Health Association
North Dakota Public Health Association is an affiliated association of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Since 1918, we have collaborated with APHA to grow stronger as organizations, to share expertise, influence, and resources, and to advocate for common priorities at the local, state, and federal levels.
APHA is the national voice of public health and champions the health of all people and all communities. They strengthen the profession of public health, promote best practices and share the latest public health research and information. APHA is the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health and a member community from all public health disciplines and over 40 countries. Learn more at www.apha.org.