Meet Kweku Wilson, OHA's newest PhD

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July 11, 2018

In this issue ...

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Kweku Wilson speaks at Portland State University commencement.

Health transformation provides PhD dissertation topic for 2018 grad Kweku Wilson

OHA employee Kweku Wilson received his doctoral degree in June with his dissertation on the relative effectiveness of Oregon’s patient-centered primary care home (PCPCH) model.

Kweku graduated from the joint Oregon Health & Science University/Portland State University School of Public Health with a PhD in Health Systems and Policy. He participated in commencement ceremonies for both universities last month in Portland and was a student speaker for the PSU commencement and a standard-bearer for the school of Public Health at the OHSU ceremony.

Kweku is the Health Care Interpreter program coordinator for the OHA Office of Equity and Inclusion.

The title of his dissertation is "Health Risks in Medical Homes and Their Effects on Emergency Department and Inpatient Expenditures: A Focus on Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes in Oregon."

We asked Kweku five questions about his research and himself. The answers have been edited for space considerations.

Q. Can you summarize the focus of your dissertation?

A. It's a relative effectiveness evaluation of PCPCHs based on the chronic disease burden levels of their patients. My specific interest was whether PCPCHs that treat higher proportions of chronic care patients achieved more reductions in emergency department and inpatient expenditures. The results suggest among others, that savings from emergency department and inpatient expenditures were higher for low-chronic-disease-burden PCPCHs than high-chronic-disease-burden PCPCHs.

Q. What implications does this have for health transformation in Oregon?

A. The traditional view of the "medical home" model approach to care is that the savings will come from focusing on high-chronic-disease-burden patients. My research suggests that this will not be optimal. Instead, broadening the model’s focus to include both high- and low- chronic disease burden patients could help us to realize greater savings from ED and IP expenditures. This is obviously only a short-term study, with data from the first four years of the model's application.

Q. What's your educational background?

A. My background is in public administration and economics. I took some courses in health administration at PSU and got excited about that and decided to do a PhD. My parents were health care professionals, so I have always had a fascination about this field of work. Health reform, including “medical home” implementation, is going on all around the country, so I decided that looking at the PCPCH model in Oregon -- an important plank of the state’s health system reform -- would be interesting. I personally believe that any sustainable health reform must begin with and emphasize upstream care in primary care settings.

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A. I was born in Ghana in West Africa. I've been in the Pacific Northwest since 2000. I live in Longview, Washington, and I like fishing, jogging and reading. I'm a curious person and interested in learning new things.

Q. What's next, now that you've finished your PhD?

A. I'm interested in improving access, affordability and the value of health care services, as well as the goals of the state’s health system transformation. I’m also curious about how my lived and learned experience can benefit these processes.

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Managers’ meeting moves OHA Performance System forward

Earlier this week nearly 200 OHA managers met with Director Pat Allen and other senior leaders to learn more about the OHA Performance System. Part of the meeting involved creating a fundamentals map that will help employees and managers see the agency’s goals, along with the processes and measurements that ensure our work aligns with our goals.

As Director Allen has said at town halls, the OHA Performance System will bring business rigor to OHA’s processes and systems, and will increase transparency, accountability and the wise use of public resources. The Office of Information Services and Oregon State Hospital have had great success using a performance system. Watch this brief video to see how a performance system has helped OIS and the hospital focus on their mission and better serve Oregonians.

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OSH staff, patients helped raise funds for NAMI

OSH group at NAMI walk

Oregon State Hospital teams  raised $5,500 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – bringing OSH's seven-year total to about $100,000.

The fundraising helped support the 16th annual NAMI walk, a mental health awareness event that takes place in 85 locations across the country. About 100 OSH patients, staff and their families participated in the walks in Portland, Eugene and at a smaller OSH-Salem event, all on May 20.

The theme for this year’s walk was “Partners in Wellness.” Jeff Jessel, OSH director of Volunteer Services, said everyone who participated truly enjoyed the experience – which included informational booths, an enjoyable route, refreshments and fellowship.

“It was heartwarming to see hundreds of people, from all walks of life, come together to celebrate recovery and support those dealing with mental illness,” he said. “The biggest message that we can learn from this event is that mental illness touches many lives and that support and awareness are growing.”

This year, about 2,100 people took part in a NAMI walk in Oregon, raising more than $230,000.

More information about NAMI is available on its website

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A more diverse workforce is a top priority for PHD's Health Equity Work Group

The Health Equity Work Group is one key strategic initiative in the Public Health Division. This staff-led group advises division leadership on how to increase cultural responsiveness and build capacity to advance health equity in Oregon in alignment with Public Health Modernization.

This work advances Public Health’s foundational capabilities of health equity and cultural responsiveness. Since its inception in 2016, the workgroup has increased the division’s focus on health equity, workforce diversity and community engagement. It has also:

  • Created a conceptual framework for social determinants of health.
  • Developed a library of social determinants of health measures.
  • Gathered recommendations from sections on advancing health equity at the division.
  • Facilitated discussions on how work throughout the division ties to statewide health equity efforts.

The 25-30 staff members on the work group build the division’s capacity to promote health equity while sharing best practices from their fields. In the past few months the group added a full-time staff person, Victoria Demchak, the health equity coordinator.

The work group’s priorities are increasing the diversity of the division’s workforce and establishing stronger relationships with priority populations.

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Jamie Nelson receives the Scholarly Writing Award from the Journal of School Nursing, with (from left): Nina Fekaris, National Association of School Nurses president (and Beaverton school nurse), Julia Cowell, JOSN executive editor, Donna Mazyck, NASN executive director.

2 honors for OHA school nurse consultant

An OHA Public Health staff member received two awards in June that recognize his dedication and contributions to the school nursing profession.

Jamie Smith, state school nurse consultant in the Adolescent, Genetic and Reproductive Health Section's Adolescent and School Health program, received an Outstanding State School Nurse Consultant Achievement Award from the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants.

He also accepted the SAGE Scholarly Writing Award from the Journal of School Nursing on behalf of a research team that published a manuscript about a study on chocolate milk consumption in an elementary school.

The manuscript was titled Milk Options Observations (MOO): A Mixed-Methods Study of Chocolate Milk Removal on Beverage Consumption and Student/Staff Behaviors in a Rural Elementary School.

The study, which was done in 2012 and published in the Journal in 2017, showed that removal of chocolate milk as a lunch option at the school did not cause a rebellion among staff or students. It did decrease the consumption of added sugars without a decline in consumption of calcium and protein.