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1.  Effects of Performance Improvement Programs on Preparedness Capacities 
Public Health Reports  2014;129(Suppl 4):19-27.
In response to public health systems and services research priorities, we examined the extent to which participation in accreditation and performance improvement programs can be expected to enhance preparedness capacities.
Using data collected by the Local Health Department Preparedness Capacities Assessment Survey, we applied a series of weighted least-squares models to examine the effect of program participation on each of the eight preparedness domain scores. Participation was differentiated across four groups: North Carolina (NC) accredited local health departments (LHDs), NC non-accredited LHDs, national comparison LHDs that participated in performance or preparedness programs, and national comparison LHDs that did not participate in any program.
Domain scores varied among the four groups. Statistically significant positive participation effects were observed on six of eight preparedness domains for NC accreditation programs, on seven domains for national comparison group LHDs that participated in performance programs, and on four domains for NC non-accredited LHDs.
Overall, accreditation and other performance improvement programs have a significant and positive effect on preparedness capacities. While we found no differences among accredited and non-accredited NC LHDs, this lack of significant difference in preparedness scores among NC LHDs is attributed to NC's robust statewide preparedness program, as well as a likely exposure effect among non-accredited NC LHDs to the accreditation program.
PMCID: PMC4187303  PMID: 25355971
2.  Institutional Facilitators and Barriers to Local Public Health Preparedness Planning for Vulnerable and At-Risk Populations 
Public Health Reports  2014;129(Suppl 4):35-41.
Numerous institutional facilitators and barriers to preparedness planning exist at the local level for vulnerable and at-risk populations. Findings of this evaluation study contribute to ongoing practice-based efforts to improve response services and address public health preparedness planning and training as they relate to vulnerable and at-risk populations.
From January 2012 through June 2013, we conducted a multilevel, mixed-methods evaluation study of the North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center's Vulnerable & At-Risk Populations Resource Guide, an online tool to aid local health departments' (LHDs') preparedness planning efforts. We examined planning practices across multiple local, regional, and state jurisdictions utilizing user data, follow-up surveys, and secondary data. To identify potential incongruities in planning, we compared respondents' reported populations of interest with corresponding census data to determine whether or not there were differences in planning priorities.
We used data collected from evaluation surveys to identify key institutional facilitators and barriers associated with planning for at-risk populations, including challenges to conducting assessments and lack of resources. Results identified both barriers within institutional culture and disconnects between planning priorities and evidence-based identification of vulnerable and at-risk populations, including variation in the planning process, partnerships, and perceptions.
Our results highlight the important role of LHDs in preparedness planning and the potential implications associated with organizational and bureaucratic impediments to planning implementation. A more in-depth understanding of the relationships among public institutions and the levels of preparedness that contribute to the conditions and processes that generate vulnerability is needed.
PMCID: PMC4187305  PMID: 25355973
3.  Integration opportunities for HIV and family planning services in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: an organizational network analysis 
Public health resources are often deployed in developing countries by foreign governments, national governments, civil society and the private health clinics, but seldom in ways that are coordinated within a particular community or population. The lack of coordination results in inefficiencies and suboptimal results. Organizational network analysis can reveal how organizations interact with each other and provide insights into means of realizing better public health results from the resources already deployed. Our objective in this study was to identify the missed opportunities for the integration of HIV care and family planning services and to inform future network strengthening.
In two sub-cities of Addis Ababa, we identified each organization providing either HIV care or family planning services. We interviewed representatives of each of them about exchanges of clients with each of the others. With network analysis, we identified network characteristics in each sub-city network, such as referral density and centrality; and gaps in the referral patterns. The results were shared with representatives from the organizations.
The two networks were of similar size (25 and 26 organizations) and had referral densities of 0.115 and 0.155 out of a possible range from 0 (none) to 1.0 (all possible connections). Two organizations in one sub-city did not refer HIV clients to a family planning organization. One organization in one sub-city and seven in the other offered few HIV services and did not refer clients to any other HIV service provider. Representatives from the networks confirmed the results reflected their experience and expressed an interest in establishing more links between organizations.
Because of organizations not working together, women in the two sub-cities were at risk of not receiving needed family planning or HIV care services. Facilitating referrals among a few organizations that are most often working in isolation could remediate the problem, but the overall referral densities suggests that improved connections throughout might benefit conditions in addition to HIV and family planning that need service integration.
PMCID: PMC3923232  PMID: 24438522
Social networking; Community health networks; Family planning services; HIV; AIDS
4.  Linking public health agencies and hospitals for improved emergency preparedness: North Carolina's public health epidemiologist program 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:141.
In 2003, 11 public health epidemiologists were placed in North Carolina's largest hospitals to enhance communication between public health agencies and healthcare systems for improved emergency preparedness. We describe the specific services public health epidemiologists provide to local health departments, the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and the hospitals in which they are based, and assess the value of these services to stakeholders.
We surveyed and/or interviewed public health epidemiologists, communicable disease nurses based at local health departments, North Carolina Division of Public Health staff, and public health epidemiologists' hospital supervisors to 1) elicit the services provided by public health epidemiologists in daily practice and during emergencies and 2) examine the value of these services. Interviews were transcribed and imported into ATLAS.ti for coding and analysis. Descriptive analyses were performed on quantitative survey data.
Public health epidemiologists conduct syndromic surveillance of community-acquired infections and potential bioterrorism events, assist local health departments and the North Carolina Division of Public Health with public health investigations, educate clinicians on diseases of public health importance, and enhance communication between hospitals and public health agencies. Stakeholders place on a high value on the unique services provided by public health epidemiologists.
Public health epidemiologists effectively link public health agencies and hospitals to enhance syndromic surveillance, communicable disease management, and public health emergency preparedness and response. This comprehensive description of the program and its value to stakeholders, both in routine daily practice and in responding to a major public health emergency, can inform other states that may wish to establish a similar program as part of their larger public health emergency preparedness and response system.
PMCID: PMC3337284  PMID: 22361231

Results 1-4 (4)