The start of a new year brought a first for public health and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.
Employees gathered across the state for the first video conference call with Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.
On Jan. 10, Fitzgerald hosted the first statewide video conference call, broadcast to 149 locations in all 18 health districts as well as DPH’s locations at 2 Peachtree, Skyland and the public health lab via the telehealth network. The call was the first of what will be monthly calls in which the commissioner will speak to thousands of DPH employees across the state, providing updates and answering questions from public health staff.
Fitzgerald’s first order of business was to thank all employees for their dedication and good work.
“We know you’re here because you want to make a difference, and we thank you for it,” she said.
Fitzgerald highlighted Georgia’s progress on the department’s four core priorities: immunizations, childhood obesity, infant mortality and smoking cessation. The state experienced lower rates of prematurity and infant mortality in 2013 with the help of programs like Centering Pregnancy and Baby LUV.
“We have made huge progress in infant mortality,” Fitzgerald said. “And 1,000 babies are alive in our state today because of our efforts.”
DPH continues to focus on reducing childhood obesity in the state through programs like Georgia SHAPE, Gov. Nathan Deal’s program to promote physical activity and better nutrition for the state’s children. In 2013, SHAPE introduced Power Up for 30, and Fitzgerald said the program will continue to urge 30 extra minutes of physical activity every day, for every child in every school in Georgia in 2014.
The commissioner also praised higher rates of immunizations, an expanding telehealth network and progress in the fight against tobacco, including the adoption of 100-percent tobacco-free policies in more than half of the state’s school districts.
Fitzgerald detailed new priorities and upcoming projects, including a renewed focus on asthma and prescription drug abuse in the state. In 2014, DPH will also begin close work with the governor on a campaign to improve grade-level reading rates throughout the state.
Fitzgerald will host another video conference call in February. In the coming weeks, DPH employees can watch for an email with a specific date and time for the call, as well as avenues for submitting questions in advance for the commissioner.