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Welcome to The Public Health Connect, Mississippi Public Health Institute's monthly newsletter. 
 

Each month, we'll update you on what we're working on, provide statewide updates on public health trends and policy, and invite you to connect with us about your public health projects and needs. If a friend or colleague forwarded you this email, please subscribe below.
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Vaccination intervention in Mississippi
Over the last few issues, we've highlighted MSPHI's community-based intervention efforts to get more Mississippians vaccinated in order to help cap the Delta variant spread. Over the next few, we'll spotlight one of our community partner groups helping increase vaccination uptake. 

This month, we visit Magnolia Medical Foundation with offices across the state, including the Coast, which is still the most unvaccinated region of Mississippi with only 36% of residents fully vaccinated.

Since 2009, Magnolia Medical Foundation has worked to ensure accessible, affordable, culturally competent, family-centered, and gender-sensitive preventive health and social services and resources, while promoting family health, stability, and well-being through collaborative programing that encourages and supports healthy physical and social environments and healthy behaviors.

"All these health disparities, like access to healthy food and health care, already existed in our state, but COVID put a magnifying glass on it. But being a small non-profit,  we could be nimble in our response and COVID has taught us a lot. This might not be our last pandemic, so we're adapting to put parameters in palace to ensure we’re ready if this happens again."

- Dr. Erica Thompson, MD, MPH
Magnolia Medical Foundation founder and executive director

With this MSPHI grant, Magnolia has surveyed over 300 Coast residents regarding their vaccine hesitancy, and subsequently developed listening sessions and targeted education. Working to address social detriments of health, Magnolia's Jackson and Natchez offices serve as food pantries, distributing over 10,000 lbs of food in just the last two weeks of September. 

See their intervention work featured in The Sun Herald here
 

"Our Coast office has become a resource for local Hispanics, not just for pandemic and vaccine assistance, but also when they are trying to interface with various government entities, like Medicaid and birth certificates. They see so many challenges just to get access or assistance with basic needs, especially from someone that they feel comfortable with. When it comes to language barriers,  translation is not translation — it takes trust too."
Mireya Alexander
Magnolia Medical Foundation Coast community health worker
 
So far with MSPHI funding, Magnolia Medical Foundation has, among other efforts:
 
  • Surveyed over 300 residents regarding vaccination hesitancy, 80% of whom were from underserved Hispanic communities
  • Built 50 responsive listening sessions, six of which were specific to Hispanic communities 
  • Targeted factually accurate and culturally/linguistically appropriate vaccine messaging based on findings
  • Provided PPE to underserved Coast communities
  • Partnered with other agencies to provide over 500 vaccinations across the state, including Hispanic populations

Join MSPHI and the Mississippi Urban League next month to support expecting mothers

MSPHI continues to expand Substance Use Disorder (SUD) interventions
SUD interventions have long been a priority at MSPHI. Recently too, the federal government recommitted its overdose prevention programs to prioritize harm reduction policies. "We're changing the way we address overdoses," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a press release. "Our new strategy focuses on people — putting the very individuals who have struggled with addiction in positions of power."

The 2021 American Rescue Plan appropriated $2 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to services, and to implement new overdose-management strategies.

The following grants from SAMHSA will help MSPHI continue to target opioid misuse and overdose interventions across the state:
  • Prescription Drug Overdose grant: In partnership with University of Mississippi Medical Center Emergency Services, over the next five years MSPHI will train over 4,000 first responders in Mental Health First Aid and provide each with a standardized Overdose Resuscitation Kit. The Kit will not only standardize first response overdose treatment and intervention, and help facilitate the handoff to subsequent medical and social services, it will also serve as the impetus for improved overdose data collection. 
  • First-Responders Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act grant: In partnership with Mississippi State Department of Health, MSPHI will place peer support specialists in six counties across the state (Pearl River, Panola, Alcorn, Washington, Lauderdale and Adams). The speciality team will help partner non-fatal overdose patients with appropriate resources across their initial treatment through recovery.  Working with Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics too, peer specialists and first responders will coordinate overdose intervention and prevention efforts through overdose baseline and spike data. 
  • Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs grant: MSPHI will continue to raise awareness within Mississippi's medical community about SUD and prescribing. Through out strategic support team, we will train prescribers, (including pharmacists, physicians and nurses) about overprescription risks and how to check the state's Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), including issuing prescriber report cards, which are individualized, private self-checks that alerts prescribers of their over-prescribing risks.
For more information on the grants, contact SUD Program Manager Jan Dawson: jdawson@msphi.org 

Public health news across Mississippi

  • Life-saving hormone ‘belongs to the world,’ scientists said. Insulin pricing challenges that concept. (MCIR, 10/11/21): In 1921, scientists in Canada discovered insulin. After winning the Nobel Prize, they sold the patent for $1 each, saying the hormone for battling diabetes “belongs to the world.” Now, a century later, many Americans are crossing the border to buy the life-saving medicine for themselves and their families, or ordering it online, because insulin can be up to 10 times cheaper there. That’s no surprise given that the list price for a vial of insulin has skyrocketed in the U.S. from 75 cents to $250 in a little more than a half-century.
  • Flint Lead Lawyer Sues Jackson, MSDH, Alleging Lead-Poisoned Children (MFP, 10/22/21): Lawyers representing hundreds of Jackson children have sued the City of Jackson, Trilogy Engineering Services, and dozens of individual employees and public officials over allegations of persistent failures to address corrosion control in the Jackson water system. The lawsuit claims that spiking lead levels over the last decade and inaction on the part of public officials has resulted in lead-poisoned children in the city.
  • Board: Vaccine required for most Mississippi university jobs (AP, 10/26/21): Most employees at Mississippi’s eight public universities will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after a vote from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees Monday.
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