Public health school expands, awarded $2.6 million

The Yale School of Public Health is expanding its education beyond the walls of its campus.

Through a $2.6 million federal grant provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the school will help train the public health workforce in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The grant, which was awarded in late August, will enable the School of Public Health to expand its training program for public health professionals through the creation of a new center. The Public Health Training Center, which is part of a national network run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be based out of Yale’s Office of Community Health in New Haven but will also work with a satellite center located at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

The center will be the first of its kind in Connecticut.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Yale School of Public Health to really partner with practical public health and advance our overall public health mission,” said public health lecturer Elaine O’Keefe, who is the executive director of the Office of Community Health and the center’s principal investigator.

The center will provide workshops in local communities focused on teaching workers technological skills, leadership in the public health sector and environmental skills within the workplace. The training program will also address the issue of HIV/AIDS and how the public health workforce can help alleviate the epidemic.

“[The Public Health Training Center] is all about continuing education for those who are already practicing public health,” said Kathi Traugh, Yale’s public health professional development coordinator and the program’s assistant director.

School of Public Health students will also play a role in the new venture, Traugh said, explaining that the program will feature three paid internships for public health students and will allow faculty who have an interest in public health to be involved with community-based education and with projects throughout Connecticut.

School of Public Health Dean Paul D. Cleary described the new Public Health Training Center as an excellent mode of community outreach.

“[The center] is a combination of education and service and is directed towards the broader public health community,” Cleary said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Indeed, professor of epidemiology and Director of the Office of Community Health Rafael Pérez-Escamilla said the center will be led and run by world-class public health practice professionals based at the Office of Community Health.

Mario Garcia SPH ’02, the director of the New Haven Health Department, said he thinks the new training center will greatly benefit New Haven.

“I still need to hear more details as to what the plans are for the center,” Garcia said. “But I think it will help people remain in the public health field and perform better in New Haven.”

The public health school collaborated with Brown, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut when writing the four-year grant. It is one of 10 grants that were awarded this year to accredited schools of public health and other public or nonprofit institutions by the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The new project is now one of 37 federally funded training centers across the nation.

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