In early September, members of the Steering Committee met in person for a strategic thinking session. With reference to MAAP’s work plan, we spent the day assessing the progress MAAP has made over the past year, brainstorming priorities and potential projects, reflecting on the Summit outcomes, brainstorming future funding opportunities, discussing how to better engage members and enhance membership value, and also linking back to the state asthma plan. It was an engaging and productive day, and we are excited to share the outcomes and conversations at the next subcommittee meetings.
The team is also actively seeking new Steering Committee members to diversify our membership, especially in terms of increasing members from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, those who work outside of the Greater Boston area, and members who are from different professional backgrounds (including community health work, housing agencies, school nurses, and school administrators/facilities workers). We are open to your suggestions and nominations of people you think would be great to help lead MAAP. Please email Tamaki West and Dave Turcotte the contact information of nominees.
MAAP Committee Updates
The MAAP committees continue to be busy! Based on the results of MAAP’s strategic planning process last summer, each MAAP Committee decided on a programmatic and policy area to focus on.
The Healthy Schools Committee has been busy working on a number of different projects. MAAP contributed to Community Catalyst’s memo to MassHealth regarding the reinterpretation of the Free Care Rule that will allow schools to be reimbursed for health services provided to Medicaid eligible students. Partners from Community Catalyst and Health Care For All are continuing to work to move this conversation forward in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for more ways to get involved and please reach out if you have connections at MassHealth. Tolle Graham and former MAAP intern, Abena Dakwahene have created and shared a survey on school utilization of the state’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program, a state contract for purchasing safe, green cleaning products. Information gained from the survey will be shared in coming meetings.
The Health Committee has been researching best practices and trends in engaging pharmacists in providing asthma education to patients. The committee conducted key informant interviews with pharmacists working in various settings throughout the state to learn more about the current landscape (e.g., asthma management education strategies in pharmacies; existing tools; challenges/successes) and to assess how MAAP can contribute meaningfully.
The Healthy Housing Committee has been advocating for the revised new Sanitary Code in Massachusetts and plans to participate in the public hearing for the new state Sanitary Code. The MA Department of Public Health Environmental Health Bureau has completed the revised Sanitary Code draft and hopes to present the draft to the Public Health Council at their November meeting. The Public Health Council must approve the new Sanitary Code before it can be enforced. Once presented to the Public Health Council, the revised Sanitary Code will be available for public review and comment, as well as three public hearing will be held across the state. Please email David Turcotte if you would like to be involved and kept up-to-date on the Sanitary Code process.
The Primary Prevention Task Force kicked off its first meeting in early March with a great turnout and much enthusiasm. The group discussed the purpose of the task force and brainstormed priority ideas to focus on. Ideas of interest include changing the narrative around asthma to include primary prevention and developing common tools for tracking the incorporation of primary prevention in other programs. The Task Force completed an assessment of the primary prevention road map in the MA state asthma plan, which included conducting interviews with people in the field who are knowledgeable about each objective and related activities. The summary of assessment results were shared during the last task force meeting in mid-September and call participants provided their input on priority projects for fundraising and partnerships.
If interested in learning more or getting involved, please email the Committee/Task Force chairs:
• Healthy Schools: Tolle Graham
• Health: Alicia Morris
• Healthy Homes: Dave Turcotte
• Primary Prevention: Polly Hoppin
In order to encourage schools to use more safe green cleaning products and services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has adopted the Environmental Preferable Purchasing (EPP) procurement program. With this program, schools are able to purchase safe green cleaning products and services directly from this contract. All of the products and services offered on the EPP contract are certified green, environmentally friendly, and can help to prevent asthma flare-ups or other health conditions that can occur from using other cleaning services. Some benefits of schools using the EPP program include the plethora of product/service options, the technical assistance provided by the vendors, and affordable prices.
Currently, MAAP is analyzing data provided by the DPH to learn which school districts are and are not using the EPP program. A survey was also created and administered to representatives of school districts to give them an opportunity to share their experiences or lack thereof of using the EPP. Finally, we hope to distribute progress reports to school districts to showcase their use of the contract and how MAAP can support them. This data collection and analysis will be helpful as we try to encourage the use of EPP for our schools in the Commonwealth to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our communities.