RMTEC and Public Health Workforce Development
The public health workforce is shrinking. There are 50,000 fewer public health workers in the United States today compared to 20 years ago—tribes have been impacted by the shortage of tribal public health workers. Tribal public health professionals are in charge of hospitals and health care, they initiate and maintain data surveillance systems. Others provide critical services in the way of environmental engineering, environmental health, epidemiology, infection control, social work occupational safety, nursing, nutrition, and more. The tribal public health workforce is impacted by funding shortfalls within the Indian Health Service and limited training opportunities for tribal public health workforce professionals.
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center at the University of Colorado Denver, are assessing tribal public health workforce needs throughout Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. In December 2016, Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center sent a tribal public health workforce assessment to all tribal public health workforce professionals. Results from this assessment will be used to develop training opportunities that strengthen the tribal public health workforce. The assessment was paired with a raffle for Visa gift card. We are very happy to congratulate Tom Escarcega, Jr., Injury Prevention Specialist for the Fort Peck Tribes, for winning the raffle!
Tom started his career in public health over three years ago and before working as an Injury Prevention Specialist he was an Adult Probation Office for the Fort Peck Tribes. As a tribal member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation, he is concerned about the general health of enrolled members, “Many people are becoming ill and they are not taking care of themselves. As public health professionals, we have an opportunity to help our people, there is strength in our community and in our culture.”
To learn more about current projects in public health workforce development, visit the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center’s website!
Thanks for your support of the tribal public health workforce. In January 2017 we will share results from the assessment with tribal leaders, public health programs, and directors. Check this website or contact RMTEC directly for information about upcoming trainings and professional development opportunities.
RMTEC and Addressing Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is an emerging public health issue. Alcohol consumption alone in the United States contributes to 75,000 deaths each year and costs more than $184 billion. American Indian populations are disproportionately impacted by substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. Limited funding, emerging surveillance infrastructure, and the lack of data make it difficult to document the health effects of substance abuse.
In September 2016, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center received a 1-year, $30,000 grant from the Center for State and Territorial Epidemiologists to assess tribal substance use and behavioral health surveillance capacity across tribal jurisdictions of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. In the coming months, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center will meet with tribal stakeholders and convene a work group of tribal chemical dependency and behavioral health professionals. The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center will develop reports, recommendations, and surveillance strategies for improved surveillance systems that address emerging drug use, distribution patterns, and related behavioral health disorders.
For more information on the project, click here.
To learn more about work on substance abuse, visit the Center for State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ website.
Addressing Opioid Use in Pregnancy: Conversations and Next Steps in Blackfeet
Along with the rest of the United States, the Blackfeet Tribe has experienced an alarming rise in the use of opioids. To address the issue of opioid use in pregnancy, the Blackfeet Tribe recently gathered Tribal leaders, community members, and public health experts from across the country to explore how they can work together to best support good health in mothers and babies.
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center, with consultation from Boston University and in partnership with Montana Healthcare Foundation, coordinated with Blackfeet Tribal leaders to arrange the conference. Topics included strategies that the Blackfeet community is taking to destigmatize drug use, ideas for outpatient treatment of opioid use from the Lummi Tribe of Washington and Project RESPECT of Boston Medical Center, and integrating Blackfeet cultural healing practices into the care approach.
Public Health Accreditation
For information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Zika Virus, please click here.