CDC Fellow to Work with DPH to Improve Georgia’s Health Literacy

Turquoise Griffith

The CDC’s Turquoise Griffith will partner with Georgia’s DPH to begin a public health assessment in October to determine the depth of the health literacy gap and recommend partner-based, cooperative solutions.

According to federal statistics, 17 percent of Georgians do not possess basic literacy skills. An even larger number of Georgians are not able to understand essential instructions from health care providers or make sense of directions on prescription medication. Now, a new partnership between the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seeks to bring progress to this front.

In October, DPH will welcome Turquoise Griffith, a fellow with the CDC’s Public Health Prevention Service Program (PHPS), to its Division of Communications. With a Masters of Public Health in health behavior and health education, Griffith will devote her time with DPH to improve health literacy in Georgia.

Designed for master’s level public health professionals, the PHPS fellowship focuses on public health program management and provides experience in program planning, implementation, and evaluation through specialized hands-on training and mentorship at CDC, as well as in state, local, and other public health organizations.

This year’s field assignment process was “extremely competitive,” according to the CDC. The Public Health Prevention Service received 128 applications. DPH was among only 62 public agencies selected to participate in interviews.

“This is a tremendous win for the Georgia Department of Public Health,” said DPH Director of Communications Ryan Deal who, along with Media Relations Manager Nancy Nydam and the CDC, will coordinate Griffith’s work. “If people aren’t able to understand health risks, consequences or health treatment options, the end result can be calamitous in terms of improving health outcomes. Ms. Griffith brings the perfect skill set and interests to our division and its ongoing work.”

With a background rooted in HIV risk, treatment, and prevention, Griffith will begin a public health assessment in October to determine the depth of the health literacy gap and recommend partner-based, cooperative solutions.

“Real measurements of health literacy rates in the U.S. and Georgia are vital to strengthening efforts to promote health literacy and bolster ongoing efforts,” Deal said.

Culminating in a marketable, digital toolkit or program, the two-year project aims to unite partners and health care providers with public health in implementing programs focused on childhood obesity, tobacco cessation, breastfeeding, infant mortality, emergency preparedness, healthcare associated infections, injury prevention and sexually transmitted disease.

Griffith will help shape the new Georgia Health Literacy Alliance, a collaboration between the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), CDC, Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Georgia Hospital Association, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and others. The alliance has been meeting since fall 2012. Griffith will also play an important role in Georgia SHAPE, Gov. Deal’s comprehensive statewide program to address childhood obesity.

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