Two doctoral students in the College’s School of Health Sciences and Practice played critical roles in winning a New York State HEAL grant. In fact, the regional team concept began with one of them—E. Oscar Alleyne, director of epidemiology and public health planning at the Rockland County Department of Health.
Having secured the coalition, Alleyne, who enrolled in the school’s Dr.P.H. program in 2008, continues to manage expenditures and build consensus among regional partners that include insurers, doctors, clinics and hospitals. It’s no small feat, given that “not everyone may see the overall picture of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Linda Harelick, the grant’s associate project director, held a senior marketing position at Kraft Foods before starting on her Dr.P.H. degree in 2008. Like Alleyne, she brings career skills to bear on her position. “I work with seven counties and a ten-person project team, all with different styles and multiple responsibilities, so I have to get my point across quickly and clearly,” she says.
It was Harelick’s idea to invite Richard Daines, M.D., Commissioner of Health of New York State, as keynote to drive attendance to the July 2010 summit. And now, in the home stretch, Harelick continues to apply her marketing lens. “Each county has its own set of taglines for losing weight or eating better, but people cross county lines all the time,” she observes. “Having the same consistent message is a more efficient use of spending, and a better way to reinforce meaning.”
Both Alleyne and Harelick have found their student experience enriched by the grant work. “It’s been extremely helpful to interact on a daily basis with the project team, who are experts in public health,” says Harelick. “Networking with health care leaders across the counties has helped me think more broadly—not just about goals of public health, but how I can add value.”
Alleyne agrees. “By marrying the experience of leadership to the practice of public health, this grant has broadened my scope of how decisions are made, how to encourage teamwork, how to engage community, and what makes a policy successful.”
Both also gained ideas for their dissertations. Alleyne will pursue the study of regionalization, which might be described as broadening perspective from local to regional, and Harelick will explore regional access to dental health.