Public Health Leadership Program Alumni Spotlight

Kerry S. Garth, OHN Track ’12

Lindsay Huse, Leadership Track ’15

Hajime Kanamori, Leadership Track ’12

Ann Batdorf-Barnes, Leadership Track ’08

Jessica L. Damon, Leadership Track ’10

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, HC&P Track ’03

 

Kerry S. Garth, RN, MPH – Occupational Health Nursing Track ’12

Kerry Garth in uniform

Kerry S. Garth, RN, MPH
Chief, Department of Preventive Medicine, Fort Stewart, Georgia

What have you found particularly satisfying/ rewarding/invigorating recently?
I love to see people working together to be successful—regardless of obstacles and differences, people from all walks coming together to make things work for the greater good of the community.  That inspires me to work harder and is very rewarding.

What public health challenges have you been grappling with?
The uncertainty regarding some public health policy shifts and public health priorities can be disheartening.  Keeping prevention in the forefront of the stakeholders’ agendas is a challenge.  We must compete for dollars just as our civilian counterparts to keep public health elevated.

Do you have a particular memory of your time in the PHLP that stands out?  A particular experience that has stuck with you?
My comprehensive finals where I had to put all of my MPH studies together.  While that was probably my most humbling experience, it taught me the most about the synergy of public health and why it works together.

What are you working on these days?
Providing influenza vaccinations to the active duty and civilian beneficiaries that call fort Stewart and its surrounding areas home.

Lindsay Huse, RN, BSN, MPH – Leadership Track, 2015

Lindsay Huse in her new position as Wyoming State Public Health Nursing Supervisor.

Lindsay Huse, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC
State Public Health Nursing Supervisor, Wyoming Dept. of Health
Cheyenne, WY

Do you have a particular memory of your time in the PHLP that stands out?
I actually have many, but two that were most important. The first one involved attending the leadership symposium. I don’t think I had the confidence to get where I needed to go, but Vaughn had recommended that I read a book called The Gifts of Imperfection. I devoured it on the way home from the symposium and it changed my life by helping me embrace some things about myself that I always assumed would hold me back. As it turns out, some of those quirks are major leadership assets and are instrumental now in my ability to do what I’m doing. The second is really a group of memories: My teammates. I was one of many who probably rolled eyes at the amount of group work in the program, but my success was absolutely due in part to my many teammates over those several years. They taught me how to mediate conflict effectively, how to lean on others for support, to trust my voice, and to rely on the various strengths of individual teammates to achieve an objective (which was always an H, of course)! I’m still great friends with several of my cohort and I know that when I have a crazy public health idea, they won’t laugh when I bounce it off of them. And they always understand what I’m going through. I hope they feel the same way about me!

What are you working on these days?
I just started a position as the state public health nursing supervisor for the Wyoming Department of Health in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’m very excited about this role, because it will stretch and refine my public health skills and leadership abilities. I love a good challenge! In my first week here, I’ve already had the opportunity for ample team building, hiring new nurses, making policy decisions, strategic problem solving, and lots of other great work. I’ll be working on guiding the direction of the entire state public health nursing program here, including Nurse Family Partnership, Immunizations, Public Health Work Force Development, and many other programs. My first order of business is to set the strategic vision and mission for public health nursing, because we are long overdue for it!

What public health challenges have you been grappling with?
First and foremost, funding for my programs. I have one of the tightest budgets in the department. This is of course a problem everywhere, and I’m so glad I have a team of amazing, creative public health nurses who are adept at finding ways to work within that budget, as well as wonderful other programs who find ways to get us funding for things we need. Another common problem I’m running into is a lack of knowledge about what exactly public health nurses do (and don’t do). The biggest one, however, is frequent lack of communication and some pretty major problems that have come from that. Public health demands good workforce communication to be effective, especially when so many other organizations and professionals are involved.

What have you found particularly satisfying/rewarding/invigorating recently?
This kind of position has been a dream of mine for a long time, so I’m really just excited I made it this far! My particular personality and leadership skills lend well to a more strategic position, so I feel like I’m “home,” so to speak. I love the challenge of solving the complex problems we are confronted with and knowing that doing so will impact the health of many people. I also really, really love leading a team and Chapel Hill definitely prepared me well for that.

Before landing here in Wyoming, I was a regional infection preventionist with the Air Force, which definitely was not something I would’ve pictured myself doing. I really enjoyed it, especially the epidemiology side of that work. Before that, I worked briefly as a nurse case manager, which was integral to my ability to lead with compassion down the road. I honestly had many moments when I thought I’d never end up doing the kind of public health that I knew in my heart I was meant for; but, a bit of patience and a lot of hard work later, I’m finally having opportunities to impact public health in the ways I’d always hoped.

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Hajime Kanamori, MD, PhD, MPH – Leadership Track ’12

At UNC basketball game in Dean E. Smith Center with David Steffen and Bill Sollecito, PHLP.

While I was a student in the PHLP-MPH, I experienced the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and worked with infection control after the Japan earthquake. After the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, many survivors were obliged to reside in evacuation centers, suffering from unsanitary environmental conditions. There were public health concerns about the increased risk of infectious diseases and infection control after natural disasters. The faculty at PHLP encouraged me and supported my activities, thus I was able to do my best. I recognized the role of regional infection control networks and the importance of partnerships to solve infection control issues and improve practices.

Some lessons learned through our infection control campaign at evacuation centers in Miyagi prefecture after the Great East Japan Earthquake are outlined in this presentation.  I also worked at a tuberculosis center in Japan and cared for patients as well as investigated contact tracing in terms of public health.

What are you working on these days?
I am now a postdoctoral fellow in the UNC School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases, and currently funded by Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research Abroad. My research interests are molecular epidemiology of multi-drug-resistant organisms (e.g. carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) using next-generation sequencing as well as prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections using new technology.  I am working on research with Drs. Rutala and Weber, expanding my knowledge and experience in the field of hospital epidemiology and infection control.  I am excited to continue this research, since the prevention and control of healthcare-associated pathogens begins with our understanding of the epidemiology and transmission.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are an important cause of healthcare-associated infections and serious nosocomial outbreaks, raising a public health concern in the US and the world.  President Obama issued the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria in the States, aiming at major reductions of urgent and serious threats due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria by 2020.

In departmental conference room with David Weber (L) and William Rutala (R), Hospital Epidemiology, UNC Health Care.

Do you have a particular memory of your time in the PHLP that has stuck with you?
My mentors at PHLP-MPH were Bill (Dr. Sollecito) & David (Dr. Steffen).  Surprisingly, at UNC School of Medicine/UNC Health Care, I am now working with my mentors of Bill (Dr. Rutala) & David (Dr. Weber) again.  “Bill & David” have become memorable names for me.

Bill Sollecito added: “Hajime worked under stress of the earthquake and tsunami and still completed his degree while providing invaluable  service to his community.  Throughout his career he has combined practice with research, publishing extensively, and while here for his current fellowship, his son was born!”

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Ann Batdorf-Barnes, DO, MPH — Leadership Track ’08

Ann Batdorf-Barnes, DO, MPHAnn Batdorf-Barnes
Founder and principal consultant, Population Health Partners, PLC
Rochester Hills, Michigan

What are you working on these days?
In 2010, I founded a consulting firm, Population Health Partners, PLC. I consult with government, health systems, business, community organizations, philanthropy, community health centers, and others in the area of population health. Specifically, I work to integrate medicine, public health, and community partners to improve the health care delivery system and achieve better outcomes in population health.

Has your career path surprised you?
Yes, I expected to be employed by an organization or agency, but I find consulting to be the perfect fit. I love my work.  I work with smart and dedicated people that are committed to positive change, which makes my workday exciting and rewarding.

Do you have a particular memory of your time in the PHLP that stands out?
I really enjoyed my time at UNC. Both the course content and web-based program provided me with the knowledge and skills that I need to do what I do. Much of my work is virtual so the distance education taught me how to work from afar. I received a terrific education and I continue to connect with people that I met during the program.

What public health challenges have you been grappling with?
Most recently, I have had the privilege of working on system redesign for large-scale health system transformation as part of CMMI’s State Innovation Model initiative. Michigan takes a broad systems view that includes health care delivery, public health, and community efforts to improve health, care, and control costs.

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Jessica L. Damon, MLS, MPH — Leadership Track ’10

Jessica L. Damon, MLS, MPHDamonhp2
Lieutenant Commander, USPHS Commissioned Corps
Clinton, OK

Allied Health Director
Clinton Service Unit of the Oklahoma Area
DHHS for the Indian Health Service

Has your career path surprised you?
ABSOLUTELY! When attending UNC for my MPH, I was working as a medical technologist and hoping to eventually get a direct commission into the Public Health Service. Since graduating, I have been hired as a laboratory director, commissioned as an officer, accepted the mantle of Allied Health Director, and have been fulfilling the responsibilities of the (a) Business Office Manager for my service unit as well. With each new adventure I am able to see open doors to unlimited opportunities. I have no idea where the journey will take me next but I am confident that I will be ready and able thanks to UNC.

What are you working on these days?
As a service unit Allied Health Director, I coordinate and oversee the many programs under my division for a large Indian health ambulatory care center. These include pharmacy, radiology, laboratory, physical therapy and health information management.

As with most rural health services we are intensely challenged by “patient access to care” issues. These result from having a high demand for appointments with low supply of providers. Bringing physicians to rural areas is very challenging, and creative solutions to increase access is vital.

What have you found particularly satisfying/ rewarding/invigorating recently?
As an officer of the USPHS Commissioned Corps, I recently attended the 2014 USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium in Raleigh, NC. I had the fantastic opportunity to hear our acting US Surgeon General RADM Boris Lushniak speak passionately about the future of public health and what he sees as the “next frontier” for health activism. I was very impressed with his dedication to a healthier America and his vision for the Corps role in that future. Powerful!

Was there a particular experience during your time in the PHLP that stands out? Yes. The first trip to campus was just after acceptance into the program. My class gathered at Chapel Hill for our first symposium. On the first day we had to introduce ourselves and tell about our public health work. I was so overwhelmed by the phenomenal people in my class that I returned to the dorm room and cried myself to sleep. I called my mother and told her I did not belong here with these great students who were already so accomplished as professionals. I felt so small. But as the week started to unfurl and I started to get a sense of the program I began to get excited. I am so glad that I stayed. It was a life-transforming experience.

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Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH — HC&P Track ’03

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPHSamantha Meltzer-Brody
Chapel Hill, NC

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Director of Perinatal Psychiatry Program
UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders
Director, Taking Care of Our Own Program

What are you working on these days?
I am focused on two major areas: 1) women’s reproductive mood disorders (perinatal psychiatry) and 2) physician mental health and burnout syndrome

What public health challenges have you been grappling with?
How to change practice patterns for the implementation of universal screening for postpartum depression, providing education and training so that appropriate care can be offered in all treatment settings, and lastly, how to change the culture of medicine so that physicians recognize the importance of their own mental health and seek treatment when needed.  With the immense support of my colleagues, we opened the first specialized perinatal psychiatry inpatient unit in the United States in 2011.

What have you found particularly satisfying/rewarding/invigorating recently?
I greatly enjoy the multiple different facets of my work and have loved the opportunity to create new programs. The training I received in the PHLP gave me the skill-set and confidence to forge ahead with this kind of work. I have the privilege of both providing clinical care, conducting research and engaging in teaching.  This is an increasingly difficult balance for physicians and I feel very fortunate to have had outstanding mentorship and support to be able to juggle these interesting roles.

Has your career path surprised you?
While I have always been interested in women’s mental health, I had no idea that I would also be working in the area of physicians’ mental health. This is a relatively new area and one that has unique challenges, given the enormous barriers that prevent physicians from taking care of their own needs. Through funding from the School of Medicine Dean’s Office (Sanders Clinician Scholar Award), I have been able to develop the Taking Care of Our Own Program to provide mental health care and education to physicians at UNC.

Do you have a particular memory of your time in the PHLP that stands out?
I have many fond memories. I clearly remember being hugely inspired by Dr. Sue Tolleson-Rinehart. Whatever epidemiology I have learned came from Dr. Bill Miller, and Dr. Joanne Garrett provided excellent training in biostatistics. I am most appreciative of the “systems level approach” to public health problems and this has served as a template for my work at UNC.