Ten Dornsife SPH 2015 Highlights
December 22, 2015
Promoting health equity was a key theme at the Dornsife School of Public Health in 2015. Here is a selection of some highlights from last year.
1. Transforming the School of Public Health: $45 million gift from Dana and David Dornsife
On September 30, Drexel University’s School of Public Health changed its name to Dana and Dornsife School of Public Health in honor of a transformative $45 million gift from Dana and David Dornsife. Drexel University has received a total of $58 million from the long-time philanthropists. The Dornsife School will use this generous gift to strengthen its expertise, infrastructure and visibility in urban health, attract and retain top faculty that will support its urban health mission and enhance educational programs and research productivity.
2. Reimagining Health in Cities
In early September, the Dornsife School of Public Health hosted “Reimagining Health in Cities: New Directions in Urban Health Research and Action,” a symposium focused on the school’s goal to improve urban health. The Symposium brought together 29 invited speakers and over 200 participants, including public health leaders from New York City, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. On the occasion of the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia at the end of September, Dean Ana Diez Roux reflected on how it provided a glimpse of transformed urban health utopia, with the city closed to traffic, thousands of people walking and biking.
Watch Symposium Videos
3. Improving Health for All: Health Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants
In the United States, there are 11.4 million undocumented immigrants, 81 percent of whom are from Latin America. Undocumented immigrants are precluded from participating in the health care marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act and, as a result, approximately 60 percent don't have health insurance. Currently, most undocumented immigrants utilize safety-net points of care, such as community health centers, which are supported by tax dollars. Research conducted by Professor Alex Ortega, PhD, the new department chair of Health Management and Policy in the Dornsife School of Public Health, found that it is economically beneficial to include undocumented immigrants in Affordable Care Act Marketplace exchanges. Ortega's research suggests that including these immigrants in the ACA Marketplace Exchange could reduce costs at federally-funded community centers and offset costs in the Marketplace for sicker and older consumers.
4. Fighting Tobacco: Supporting Smoke-Free Public Housing
On July 16, Philadelphia’s public housing agency became the largest in the country to go smoke-free in its communities. Professor
Ann Klassen, PhD, has worked with the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) since 2011 on the evaluation of the impact of smoking in public housing. The findings from this evaluation provided important evidence in support of the proposed policy which was unanimously approved by the PHA’s Board of Commissioners.
5. Taking Action to Fight Hunger and Poverty
About one in five American households with young children live with food insecurity. Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, associate professor and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities in the Dornsife School of Public Health, toured the nation this year as co-chair of the National Commission on Hunger. In November, she testified at the House Committee on Agriculture, with a call to address the root causes of hunger and a preview of the Commission’s upcoming report that intends to advise Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on reducing hunger in America. Creating opportunities for higher quality jobs and improving upon existing programs should be the top priorities of the leadership of the United States in addressing hunger, Chilton told the House Committee on Agriculture.
6. Understanding Autism: Interventions Across the Lifespan
Autism does not end when children reach adulthood—yet most public awareness, public policy and research about autism focus on the needs of children. In April, the Life Course Outcomes Research Program at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute released the “National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood,” a comprehensive report available free online that presents new findings about a wide range of experiences and outcomes of youth on the autism spectrum between high school and their early 20s, including new safety and risk indicators for young adults with autism. In October, the team presented research updates on autism as a public health challenge to kick off the School’s 2015-2016 Population Health Spotlight speaker series.
Read Drexel Press Release
Read Life Course Outcomes Report
Watch Population Health Spotlight Seminar
7. Emergency Response: Using Social Media to Communicate
During natural or man made disasters, many turn to social media to get important updates in real time. A new Social Media Message Library was launched by the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication at the Dornsife School of Public Health in September to assist staff in public health and health care agencies who wish to use social media platforms to communicate with stakeholders when public health emergencies arise. This web-based resource features templates for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to deliver timely, accurate and consistent information needed during public health emergencies.
View the Social Media Library
8. A Public Health Response to Violence: Expanding Healing Hurt People
A memorial for victims who died in incidents of violence in Philadelphia. (Credit: Tony Fischer, CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonythemisfit/3481319452/)
Healing Hurt People, a program of Drexel’s Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice in the Dornsife School of Public Health and College of Medicine, significantly expanded its reach in Philadelphia in 2015. The rollout of the trauma-informed hospital-based violence intervention program is supported by the Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, and research on the program is supported by the Ann E. Casey Foundation. Healing Hurt People operates in partnership with the emergency departments of Hahnemann University Hospital in Center City, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Northeast Philadelphia, and began rolling out at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in West Philadelphia and Einstein Medical Center’s Philadelphia campus in 2015.
9. Raising Awareness about Mass Incarceration
High rates of incarceration, conditions in prison, use of excessive police force, racial discrimination, and social justice issues made headlines in 2015. Dornsife students facilitated conversations about, race, incarceration, police violence, and discrimination throughout the year. The School also partnered with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to host the Beyond the Wall exhibit, an exhibition of 35 mini-murals that featured inmates, formerly incarcerated individuals, attorneys, criminal justice professionals, corrections officers, politicians, academics, advocates and community members. The exhibit was followed by a roundtable conversation with Dornsife students and staff.
10. Public Health and Marriage Equality: Celebrating Success
One of the biggest civil rights victories of 2015 was the legalization of same-sex marriage on June 26. Randall Sell, ScD, an associate professor at the Dornsife School of Public Health, noted that legalizing same-sex marriage decreases stigma and discrimination that have measurable negative health impacts. In addition, same-sex marriage also impacts health positively via increased health access and social support.