TNIPH Grant to Support Statewide Health Improvement

JOHNSON CITY – The Tennessee Institute of Public Health (TNIPH) is among a handful of organizations across the nation selected to receive a grant that will be used to help raise overall levels of health across the Volunteer State.

TNIPH, a statewide partnership of public health leaders, was created by legislative action to address the leading health challenges facing Tennessee, said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health and interim director of TNIPH. The grant of $10,000 from the National Network of Public Health Institutes and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will strengthen TNIPH’s renewed push to make Tennesseans healthier. TNIPH was one of only six institutes nationwide that received the grant.

“The Tennessee Institute of Public Health is very appreciative of the support from the National Network of Public Health Institutes,” Wykoff said. “This will allow us to carry out those critical functions that are always necessary to help a new organization get its feet solidly on the ground and begin moving forward.”

Wykoff said the grant will help add new features to the TNIPH Web site. The site can be accessed by public health organizations, businesses, community groups or individuals who are looking for information or initiatives to improve health. The money will also facilitate planning meetings for the TNIPH board of directors to determine how the institute can best improve the health of Tennesseans.

The collaborative spirit among TNIPH board members, who are located throughout the state, is the institute’s greatest strength, Wykoff said. “While the institute is hosted at the ETSU College of Public Health, we are exceptionally fortunate to have a statewide board of directors that is truly outstanding,” Wykoff said. “The board includes members from the major academic institutions in the state, many professional organizations and non-profit groups and leading representatives from state government. This type of expertise gives me remarkable enthusiasm for the future of the institute and the role that it will play in improving health in Tennessee.” A relatively new organization, TNIPH is growing as the state faces significant health challenges. TNIPH board members were actively involved in discussions on how to use information in the recent County Health Rankings to target specific areas of improvement, and the institute’s board wrote and distributed an opinion piece to statewide media outlets after the rankings were released.

Wykoff said the challenges faced by Tennessee, which, according to the 2009 “America’s Health Rankings,” ranks 44th among states in overall health, are surmountable through a coordinated, statewide effort. Visitors to www.state.tn.us/tniph will find useful information and a list of resources to support local health improvement actions.

“While Tennessee faces significant health challenges, we have incredible resources in this state from the level of the highest elected officials to community groups that are all dedicated to making a difference,” Wykoff said. “There has never been a better time to make a difference in the health status of our state.

Contact: Brad Lifford