SPH in Action through Partnership
The University of Michigan School of Public Health is responding to water crisis issues through community partnerships and keeping a pulse on what is happening on the ground through regular participation in water crisis response meetings in Flint. We are taking action through a dedicated task force, student service, faculty and researcher partnerships and community education.
Public Health Practice Flint Initiatives
The Flint Initiatives Program, funded by the UM SPH dean, serves as a bridge between the Flint community and UM SPH expertise and resources to collaboratively support the ongoing water crisis response. The work includes coordinating the UM SPH Flint Task Force, connecting SPH faculty and students to Flint service projects, and serving as a liaison for SPH-Flint partnership exploration and facilitation, especially for public health practice projects.
UM SPH Flint Task Force
The U-M SPH Flint Task Force seeks to examine the public health, scientific, policy, and legal options for preventing a reoccurrence of the Flint water crisis tragedy.
Our goal is to partner with the Flint community, local, state, and federal agencies, and other UM faculty, to investigate the best, sustainable set of solutions to protect the health of Flint residents. The Task Force will seek robust solutions that are durable rather than quick solutions that may gain immediate media attention but might not be the right approach for protecting the community's health. While the Task Force will consider short-term options, its focus will be on devising longer-term strategies to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.
In addition to responding to evolving water crisis issues and fostering opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaboration to protect public health, the Task Force has composed research-based guidance. These include:
SPH students have been highly engaged in water crisis relief through applied academic projects and internships, and on the ground in Flint through a series of bottled water distribution events. Often, large interdisciplinary teams of students have come together with Flint community partners to deliver cases of bottled water and other relevant supplies to the doors of nearly a thousand Flint residents each service day. Public Health Practice has organized over a dozen such service days, including in partnership with other UM schools, and attracting SPH faculty and staff to participate.
Visit our events page for more information on student service events.
Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center (HFRCC)
The Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center (HFRCC) is organized to create synergy in research, foster ethical and respectful academic-community partnerships, and develop innovative solutions to community defined issues. The Center was collaboratively formed in 2016 by Community Based Organizational Partners, University of Michigan, University of Michigan-Flint and Michigan State University.
HFRCC aids in coordinating research conducted in Flint to minimize the duplicated efforts across local universities, increase community voice in the face of government mistrust, and ensure ethical community involvement. The Center serves as a point of contact for academic researchers, community members and organizations, as well as state and local government officials looking for research connections and engagement.
For more information, please visit the HFRCC website or call (810) 762-4970.
U-M SPH faculty and researchers are participating in a number of activities that pertain to the crisis in Flint. We will continue to update this list as additional projects take shape.
|Peter Jacobson / Network for Public Health Law||SPH emeritus professor Peter Jacobson and research partners at the Network for Public
Health Law at SPH issued three reports in January 2018:
|SPH Practice Office/ M-LEEaD/Flint Community Partners||The SPH Flint Initiatives Program supported Flint's Community Based Organization Partners in coordinating partners and securing a grant to establish the Flint/Detroit Healthy, Affordable Water Regional Coalition as a sub-network of the Great Lakes Network. As part of this initiative, a team of academic/community trainers from the M-LEEaD COEC provided policy advocacy training to grassroots community leaders in May 2018.|
|M-LEEaD||The UM Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease Center (M-LEEaD) Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) responded to community requests for support, including document translation, health information distribution, collaboration to update informational materials, and providing expertise. Visit the COEC: Flint Water Crisis Response webpage for more details.|
|SPH Practice Office / SPH Environmental Health Sciences / Community Partners||The SPH Flint Initiatives Program, with oversight and content expertise from Dr. Tim Dvonch and Dr. Trish Koman of the SPH Environmental Health Sciences Department, coordinated the development of the "See for Yourself: What's in Your Water?" adult and youth community education project. Community partners include: Community Based Organization Partners, Community Outreach for Family and Youth, Flint Community Schools, and the Genesee County Health Department. The project was funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency.|
|SPH Practice Office / SPH Nutrition Department||The Region V Public Health Training Center, at the request of Flint community partners, led the development of the Healthy Lifestyle, Happy Kids - Nutrition Training to combat the effects of lead poisoning through nutrition. Dr. Sue Cole from the SPH Nutritional Sciences Department oversaw the project and provided content expertise.|
|U-M Flint / HMP||An SPH lecturer is offering legal expertise regarding public health emergencies, environmental public health, regulatory and statutory authority as part of U-M Flint's Winter Course: Flint's Water Crisis.|
|Lecturers Employee Organization||The Lecturers Employee Organization collected money for the water crisis in Fall 2015. The water was distributed in December.|
|HBHE||HBHE faculty are collaborating with the Genesee County Health Department to collect data on water issues as part of the Speak to Your Health Community Survey. This data encompasses tap water quality (taste, smell, appearance), what residents use for drinking water, why they buy bottled water, and difficulty in paying water bills.|
|SPH Practice Office||The Region V Public Health Training Center, at the request from the Genesee County Health Department, held a webcast on the new Legionella ASHRAE 188 Guidelines. The presenter was Janet Stout from Special Pathogens Lab. Watch it here.|
Additionally, this University Record article outlines the plans for a number of research partnerships between U-M and Flint area agencies and organizations.
"See for Yourself: What's In Your Water?" is a community education project developed in 2016-2017 to increase the Flint community's ability to protect itself during the water crisis through knowledge and citizen science.
More than 1,000 Flint residents gained skills and knowledge through twenty community education events, covering topics including:
- How water gets from its source to your home,
- How to test your water for lead and understand the test results
- Proper filter use
- Getting connected with people who can answer your questions about the water system and provide resources for your home
All training materials are free and publicly available on the project website, in order to support continued community education. Please feel free to use this information and share it broadly!
Since 2016, hundreds of SPH students delivered water to homebound Flint residents and learned how the water crisis impacted people's lives, water infrastructure, and public health. Service days for bottled water distribution were organized by Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) and the Flint Initiatives Program within SPH Public Health Practice. Our community partners for water distribution service days have been Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and the American Red Cross. Thank you all for all of your contributions in service to the Flint community!