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Peter D. Thornton.

We in environmental health live in dynamic times. For some, these times are exciting. For others, they are disconcerting. While the profession changes in response to the environmental and health problems of the nineties, the recession is causing budgeting restrictions. In many areas of the country, the pendulum of health priorities is swinging away from prevention programs in favor of medicaid programs, AIDS programs, and a need to solve the national health insurance crisis. Competition for budget dollars is changing the way in which environmental health justifies itself.Environmental health programs are increasingly being divested from agency to agency, often without regard to the health faction of these programs. Turf protection by agencies is sometimes interfering with the agencies' mission, and the environmental health professionals are being forced to make choices of whether to become more diverse or more specialized. NEHA's challenge is to provide full service to both the generalist and the specialist -- a difficult but exciting task. The nineties call for aggressive and deliberate action.Catching up in WashingtonFor years, NEHA has discussed establishing a presence in Washington. The time has come to move ahead. There are very distinct functions that NEHA can and should support now. A Washington representative is needed to be available to lobbyists, to legislator's aides, to health and environmentally related federal agencies, and to other national associations already stationed in Washington. Such an office can also be a clearinghouse for information on grant monies and proposed legislation, services that all NEHA affiliates can use. These are all duties that can be initiated now, without the major expense of a lobbyist. There are too many agency rules, national association policy statements and budgets created without environmental health professional association input.Other important issuesIt is important that the grass roots NEHA member be afforded the opportunity to become more involved with the association. Each of the NEHA conferences seem to attract many of the same individuals. While their attendance and dedication is important, this shows that the world class educational opportunities are not available to many members. To change this, circuit rider workshops should be held right in the members' region. This means that instead of all members flying to one city in the nation for a meeting, the instructors can fly to the members' states and hands-on, intensive workshops can be held in the member's backyard. Of course, the national meeting should remain the ultimate environmental health training experience.Other important issues include environmental equity, the recruitment of minorities into the profession, and the use of practitioners for teaching under-graduate schools of public and environmental health.A progressive and involved professionalIn 1987, I was awarded the Florida EHA's "Outstanding Environmental Health Professional". In 1992, my staff at the Volusia County Public Health Unit won the Honorable Mention award for "Excellence in Environmental Health" (for the use of Total Quality Management) by the National Association of County Health Officials. Also in 1992, I was presented the Davis Productivity Award by Florida Tax Watch, Inc. and Winn Dixie Stores for "major increases in staff productivity and in establishment quality".Over the past three years I have presented four papers at the NEHA annual and midyear conferences on various aspects of environmental health management, and over the next few months I will be delivering the keynote address at the Idaho and Ohio Environmental Health Association annual meetings, and I will be an instructor at a pre-conference total quality management seminar for the NEHA AEC in Orlando.In professional organizations I am a past editor of the Florida Journal of Environmental Health and have held all executive offices of the Florida EHA. Since 1989, I have been a member of the NEHA publications committee and in 1990 I was the conference chairman for the NEHA Midyear Conference in Orlando. During 1991-1992 I was Chairman of the National Conference of Local Environmental Health Administrators (NCLEHA).Education and professional experienceI am beginning my 21st year of direct environmental health experience in the state of Florida and I have been a Registered Sanitarian since 1973. Over the years I have been a water and waste water plant operator, a general sanitarian, a food program specialist, an environmental health supervisor, a federal rat control manager, an industrial hygienist, an assistant director and an environmental administrator.My educational background is pertinent, with an Associate's degree from Broome Community College, a Bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan -- all in environmental health.A commitment to NEHAUnderstanding and recognizing the needs of the association, its members, and the profession is of utmost importance, and the most important element to such an understanding is the ability to listen. While leadership for NEHA is necessary, it should be practiced cooperatively, with the help and guidance of all members. I hope that your support will mean your commitment to involvement in a participative and cooperative direction for NEHA.
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Title Annotation:NEHA Second Vice Presidential Candidate Profiles; National Environmental Health Association
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Bobby Baker.
Next Article:Environmental leadership in a public health agency.

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