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College of Public Health

East Tennessee Academic Health Department Coordinator Plays Key Role in Community Health Status Assessment
For the past two years, Christian Williams, MPH has served as the Academic Health Department Coordinator and liaison between the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and the East Tennessee College of Public Health. This unique position has placed Ms. Williams for half of her time in the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and half of her time in the College of Public Health where she is pursuing a DrPH in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health.

One of her main projects as the AHD Coordinator has just come to fruition, with the publication of the 2012 Community Health Status Assessment, which serves as a snapshot of the county for over 150 health indicators. It is the most definitive report of its type in the history of the county.

As the Academic Health Department Coordinator, Ms. Williams had primary responsibility for drafting the report and collecting and collating much of the data. Andrew Stephen May, MD, Regional Medical Director, and Heather Mullins, MPH Regional Epidemiologist, also worked on the report, along with three students/alumni from the College of Public HealthDavid Blackley, DrPH, Billy Brooks, MPH, and Amber Hall, MPH.

Ms. Williams states: "Through my position as AHD Coordinator, I have been fortunate to work with various community organizations and on multiple projects that have further strengthened my public health skills. Working on the Community Health Status Assessment has given me a glimpse at how valuable these data will be in working together to improve the county's health."

Ms. Williams is supervised in her work at the Health Department by Mr. Gary Mayes, Regional Director. According to Mr. Mayes, "Ms. Williams used her training and education fully to produce the Assessment. Our partnership with ETSU is producing results that our department could not do alone."

The Academic Health Department is a unique collaboration between Sullivan County, the ETSU College of Public Health, and LIFEPATH, the Tennessee Public Health Training Center. The Sullivan County Academic Health Department is believed to be the first in the nation where a doctoral student serves in the leadership role as coordinator. When the AHD model was launched, Dr. John Dreyzehner, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health stated "Academic Health Departments create an opportunity for academics and practitioners to move the population health improvement ball together in a way that is a triple win for departments, for academics and their students, and for the health and prosperity of Tennessee."

Ms. Williams completed her MPH at ETSU, with a concentration in Health Services Management and Policy. In addition to helping to develop the Community Health Status Assessment, as AHD she served as Interim Coordinator of the Sullivan County Health Council, assisted with a State-wide primary prevention initiative, and helped to oversee student internships and projects at the Health Department.

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department is one of the six metropolitan Health Departments in Tennessee and is responsible for providing a full range of public health services to more than 150,000 residents of the county. It was recently recognized by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence as Achievement Award (advanced) Level III.

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