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Abstract

The 88th Annual Meeting of the Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 11-12, 2017, with pre-conference (April 10th) and post-conference (April 12th) Executive Board meetings. As Georgia’s leading forum for public health researchers, practitioners, and students, the annual meeting of the GPHA brings together participants from across the state to explore recent developments in the field and to exchange techniques, tools, and experiences. In recent years the venue for the GPHA annual conference has been Atlanta, but in an effort to expand participation across the state the 2018 GPHA Annual Meeting and Conference is scheduled to be held on Jekyll Island, GA (April 4-6. 2018). This conference built on the successes of the previous years’ conferences. These included the continuation of offering three pre-conference workshops, an expansion of sponsorships, more poster sessions, more CEU-certified workshops, and the expansion of dedicated tracks for administration, accreditation, and boards of health training. The theme for the 2017 conference was People, Providers, Professionals, and Partners, which reflects an understanding of the all-encompassing nature of who is part of public health in Georgia. Public Health in Georgia includes all individuals who live, work, and play in Georgia, not just those who provide public health services through government agencies. It includes those in education, public safety, and emergency services. It includes those in private industry as well as public. It includes those working for foundations, non-profit, and non-governmental organizations who are working for the health of all Georgians. All of these individuals have a role in Georgia’s public health, and, therefore, a reason to be at the GPHA annual conference. One hundred and thirty-three (133) abstracts were submitted for peer review; 52 were accepted for poster (41 by students) and 62 for workshop presentations. Four plenary sessions with keynote speakers covered the international, national, and local response to the Zika pandemic, and setting the stage for further discussions on the future workforce education and training challenges for public health in Georgia. Concurrent workshops focused on board of health training, public health accreditation, genomics, environmental health regulations, continuing education of nurses, best practices learned from natural disasters, community capacity building, and lessons learned from other surveillance activities in dealing with the emerging Zika disease crisis, and the implementation of policies and regulations. Seventeen (17) GPHA awards were presented at the conference, including Legislator of the Year Award to State Senator Renee Untermann (a two-time award winner) for her legislative efforts critical to the success of public health initiatives in Georgia. These efforts included working tirelessly to keep the Department of Public Health funded and increase “hold harmless” funding for county boards of health, push through funding to make public health nursing salaries competitive, and a host of other issues. The Sellers-McCroan Award went to the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale Health District Epidemiology Team (Brittany Carter, MPH; Catherine Clark, RN, MPH, CIC; and Modu Feyistitan, MPH) for their tieless work in keeping the people of their health district safe. The Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale Epidemiology Team has consistently investigated more outbreaks than any other health district and has excelled in their targeted approaches to education and disease control. The conference attracted 534 registrants (491 one- or two-day attendees, 26 luncheon-only, and 10 President’s Reception only). This was a 12.4% increase over the previous year. Additionally, there was a 55% increase in the number of workshops offered (n=62), and a 15.6% increase in the number of poster presentations (n=52). The number of exhibitors decreased by 13.9% (n=31), but the number of sponsors increased, by 46.7% (n=22) compared to 2016. Conference sponsorships brought in $82,850, a 14.1% increase over the previous year, but still 2.5% shy of the conference sponsorship goal of $85,000. Of registrants reporting GPHA section participation, representation included: Academic (6.4%); Administration (15.7%); Behavioral Health (0.3%); Boards of Health (9.3%); Career Development (6.1%); Safety and Health Preparedness (0.3%); Environmental Health (5.5%); Epidemiology (7.4%); Health Education and Promotion (15.7%); Information Technology (2.2%); Maternal and Child Health (5.5%); Medical/Dental (2.2%); Nursing (13.8%); Nutrition (8.0%); and Primary Care (0.6%). Yvette Daniels, JD, of the Department of Public Health was instrumental in working to revitalize the Nutrition Section participation at the Annual Meeting and Conference. There was 100% participation in the conference from the state’s 18 public health districts again this year. The online conference evaluation completed by a representative sample of registrants indicated areas of potential improvement as: include all speakers in handbook, handouts available, diversity in concurrent sessions, better scheduling of poster sessions, use of technology and social media for changes in programming and locations, avoid Holy Week and/or Passover, conference date earlier in calendar year or during summer would bring more county-level participation. Over 90 percent rated the conference as “good” or “excellent.”

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