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The Maine Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in Maine and has been working to improve public health since 1984. MPHA aims to protect those who live, work and play in Maine from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion, disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in Maine. MPHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities.


MPHA builds a collective voice for public health, working to ensure access to health care, protect funding for core public health services and eliminate health disparities, among a myriad of other issues. We are a member based non-profit organization governed by a 16 member Board of Directors and guided by our mission and bylaws. MPHA has deep and vast support from many organizations throughout Maine and is an affiliate of the American Public Health Association.


October 31

MPHA and Partners Fight Epidemic of Fear around Ebola

The article below was posted by the Portland Press Herald here and picked up by several other news sources in Maine and nationally. In response to this submission, you can also see Gordon Smith from MMA at the Rachel Maddow show.
For scientific information about the Ebola virus, go to the Federal CDC or APHA.

We are a group of Maine health professionals who are concerned about the epidemic of fear spreading in Maine and elsewhere about Ebola.

First, here are a few facts that we hope are helpful. We recognize that people are concerned about Ebola and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. However, it is reassuring that the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other public health agencies have 40 years of experience with Ebola. This is not a new virus. The current outbreak in three West African countries is behaving the same as others, but has spread because of extremely poor conditions as well as a lack of an adequate public health system and sufficient health workers to contain it.

The science and experience of many indicates that Ebola is only contagious once symptoms have occurred. Body fluids such as blood and vomit are most infectious in advanced stages of the disease. That is why the only two people to have contracted Ebola in the United States are two nurses who cared for a patient in Texas in the very end stages of the infection, and we understand the nurses were not fully protected.

Second, quarantining all health care workers without symptoms upon their return from caring for Ebola patients in the affected countries may be well intended, but it is not supported by the science or experience.

Even if a health care worker were unknowingly exposed to the Ebola virus while working in an affected area, 40 years of experience and biological evidence show they are not contagious before symptoms are present. This evidence also indicates that fever usually precedes the contagious stages, allowing time for people to identify themselves and be isolated before they can transmit it to others in the community.

Health care workers returning from affected areas of West Africa are instructed to monitor their temperature, and are isolated at the first signs of the disease. The case of a returning physician with Ebola in New York City is an example of this system working. Recent guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) have established recommendations for regular monitoring of health care workers and others who may have been exposed to Ebola to identify the earliest indications of illness.

Third, unnecessarily quarantining these returning health care workers can have a devastating impact on the efforts to stop Ebola at its source and ultimately here.

Most American health care providers working there are doing so selflessly as volunteers for several weeks. Very often they can only take a limited time off from work, and are unable to take an additional three weeks off for quarantine when they return. They and their families should also not have to face stigma and anger. Reports from aid organizations indicate that unnecessary quarantines and stigma are already negatively impacting the number of volunteer applicants to assist with the outbreak in parts of West Africa.

Centuries of experience with epidemics show that Ebola must be stopped at its source in order to prevent its spread elsewhere. In order to accomplish this, we need many thousands of health care workers to volunteer in these three affected countries in West Africa, and at this time we are far short of that. Unnecessary quarantines impede these efforts.

Everyone needs assurances with the facts. We also need assurances that returning workers will be monitored and advised, including active monitoring by state officials when warranted, according to the set guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And very importantly, by Americans helping to contain this outbreak at its source, all of us are safer.

Ultimately we need to be guided by science and not emotion. An epidemic of fear can be as dangerous as an epidemic with a virus.

We are joined by our colleagues representing the Maine Public Health Association (Tina Pettingill, MPH, Executive Director) as well as other distinguished Maine public health and health care leaders, including: Kathleen Gensheimer, MD, MPH (State Epidemiologist 1981 – 2009); Jennifer K. Jubulis, MD (infectious disease specialist at Maine Medical Center); Lisa Letourneau, MD, MPH; Dervilla McCann, MD; Carol A. McCarthy, MD (Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Maine Medical Center); Steve Meister, MD, MHSA; Peter Millard, MD, PhD; Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH (State Health Officer 1996 – 2011); Daniel Oppenheim, MD (co-chair of the Public Health Committee of the Maine Medical Association); Stephen Sears, MD, MPH, (State Epidemiologist 2011 – 2014 and infectious disease specialist); Rhonda Selvin, APRN (President of Maine Nurse Practitioner Association); Robert P. Smith, Jr., MD, MPH (Director of Infectious Diseases, Maine Medical Center); and Erik Steele, DO.

Sincerely,

Lisa Ryan, DO
President, Maine Medical Association

Lani Graham, MD, MPH
State Health Officer 1990-1996
Co-chair of Maine Medical Association’s Public Health Committee

October 17

Dr. Steele comes to Maine

MPHA and our partners were pleased to welcome back Dr. Erik Steele to Maine at our 30th anniversary conference on October 7, 2014. Dr. Steele presented a conference keynote titled “The Man of Steele: Lessons from a Public Health Superhero”. The keynote was incredibly well received and can be found here. Thank you to conference sponsor, Maine QualityCounts for video taping Dr. Steele!

July 24

MPHA Announces Call for Award Nominations

MPHA is once again pleased to announce our annual Call for Award Nominations. The following two awards will be presented at our annual fall conference on October 7th at the Augusta Civic Center. Please help us recognize and honor two public health standouts in Maine. Award nominations are due Thursday, September 18th at 5pm. Click on the form below FMI.

PH Program Award nomination 2014
Help MPHA recognize the effective, efficient, evidence-based and creative public health programs that you know of in your community, district or throughout Maine. The goal of the Program of Excellence Award is to increase the visibility of public health initiatives in Maine, to promote adoption of effective public health programs, and to provide recognition to organizations involved in successful collaborative public health initiatives.

Ruth Shaper award form 2014
The Ruth S. Shaper Memorial Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution in the area of public health.  The individual will have demonstrated a broad orientation to health promotion and disease prevention that extends beyond his/her specific profession or field of interest.  For example, the individual may have made a meaningful impact in health legislation, health education, health policy development, or consumer advocacy at either the community or state level.  Professional rank or status in an organization is not an important factor.  The nominee need not be a member of the Maine Public Health Association.

March 4

Resources: Public Health Videos

The following videos are great resources to use while talking about Public Health in general. They would make great classroom material:

Source: The “This Is Public Health” campaign was created by Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). For more information, visit their website.

Source: The Healthiest Nation in One Generation is an initiative of the American Public Health Association. For more information on this initiative, vist their website.