Regional Public Health Program Funded for Another Two Years

The Greater Derry Public Health Network will be funded for another two years, along with another grant to promote education and prevention in “substance misuse.” The Town Council voted unanimously at its Feb. 19 meeting to approve the application for and to accept the grants.

The Public Health Network, directed by Garrett Simonsen, facilitates regional public health emergency planning activities covering 10 area towns. The Town of Derry is the fiscal agent for these funds, and Simonsen’s office is in Derry. The current funding ends June 30, 2013. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has issued a Request for Proposals for July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, along with a possible extension to 2015.

If approved, the grant would be $151,163 per fiscal year ($85,783 for public health emergency preparedness and $65,380 for substance misuse prevention). A second grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for $20,000 will, if approved, be directed toward substance misuse prevention.

In a memo Simonsen wrote that the “deliverables” of the Public Health Network funding include planning for public health emergencies and substance misuse prevention, training personnel and volunteers, conducting emergency drills and responses, facilitating efforts among partner agencies to strengthen the capabilities of the public health system, and participating in local health assessments to support data driven approaches to public health prevention.

Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores asked what towns are included in the network. Simonsen said the network
covers Atkinson, Chester, Danville, Derry, Hampstead, Londonderry, Plaistow, Sandown, Salem and Windham.
Katsakiores also asked how the “substance misuse” money would be used. Simonsen responded that the focus will be on intervention. “We will do initial data collection, and then create programs to prevent substance misuse,” he said.