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A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
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Empowering women to live healthier lives!

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Women's Health Coordinator

Marian Mehegan, D.D.S., M.P.H.
John F. Kennedy Federal Building, #2126
Boston, Massachusetts 02203
Phone: 617-565-1071
Fax: 617-565-4265
Email: Marian.Mehegan@hhs.gov
Region resources:

Region I

Region I consists of:

Region I overview

Region I is comprised of the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These states have historic, economic and geographic affinity and are known as the New England region. The 3 northern states (ME, NH, VT) have a more rural complexion, with some significant population centers, which have been increasing in racial and ethnic diversity over time. The 3 southern states (CT, MA, RI) are more populous and both ethnically and racially diverse with a number of minority majority cities such as Boston, MA; Providence and Central Falls, RI and New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport, CT.

Many of the NE states have gateway communities with growing populations of new immigrants from around the globe; Southeast Asian, African, Central and South American, South Asian, and Russian to name a few. The New England states tend to rank well in overall health status for their populations and have placed high in the National Women's Health Report Card rankings, with most of the states in the top 10. This reflects historic public health commitments, as well as previous state and local financial resources directed at health issues. The area is rich in academic medical centers, professional schools and research institutions and has had long standing commitments to women's rights and progress.

In spite of fairly strong showings in overall health status, there are significant pockets of poor health outcomes, both in the cities and rural communities of New England. Concerns include but are not limited to higher age adjusted death rates for cancer, pneumonia and influenza; poorer breast cancer outcomes for minority women and nationally researched breast cancer clusters in Massachusetts; higher HIV/AIDS rates in parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts (disproportionately among Latina and African American women) and disparities in infant mortality. Various health disparities are apparent: racial and ethnic, rural, people with disabilities and sexual minorities. The small geographic size of the region and the long history of collaboration allows for a focus on cross regional workgroups analyzing and addressing public health concerns. The OPHS Regional Office has provided leadership on cross cutting public health initiatives in public health and managed care, as well as in asthma, diabetes and HP 2010 data collection issues.

In addition, the region has 2 unique regional resources, NECON and NECHE. NECON www.neconinfo.org (New England Coalition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization, established in 1984 with working groups and health-examining task forces whose members represented multiple disciplines from all 6 New England states. Today, NECON is a coalition of the New England state health departments, the region's schools of public health, and federal health agencies led by Region I of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as medical societies, legislators, and representatives from industry, labor, and voluntary associations.  Its mission is to serve as an instrument for the development and enhancement of disease prevention and health promotion public policies in New England . There has been a NECON taskforce on women's health which has identified infrastructure support for a comprehensive approach to women's health in state health agencies and attention to the less represented parts of a woman's lifespan, i.e. adolescent and elder women's health as priorities. NECON reports periodically to the New England Governor's Association on public health priorities.

NECHE www.NECHE.org ( New England Coalition for Health Equity ) is a regional partnership of stakeholders working to eliminate health disparities based on ethnic, racial, and linguistic differences. The mission of NECHE is to improve the collection, analysis, and utilization of data to reflect accurately the demographics of New England and to inform more effectively the policy-making process how to address health needs of minority populations and eliminate disparities in health care. The work of NECHE has been particularly important in gathering data to look at racial/ethnic disparities in the NE states which have smaller numbers of minority populations than other parts of the country.

The Region I Women's Health Workgroup (RWHWG) an intergovernmental working group consisting of women's health representatives from the NE state health agencies, regional HHS representatives, Centers of Excellence(COE) and Community Centers of Excellence(CCOE) in Women's Health, Rural Frontier Women's Health Coordinating Centers( RFCC), as well as representatives from the OWH National Minority Panel of Experts, is convened by the Region I women's health coordinator and has met quarterly to address cross cutting priorities and programs in women's health, as well as to share resources and information.

Region I has:

  • Three Centers of Excellence in Women's Health (COE)
    • Boston University Medical Center
    • Harvard Medical School
    • Brown University/Women and Infants Hospital
  • Two Community Centers of Excellence in Women's Health (CCOE)
    • Griffin Hospital
    • Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center
  • One Rural/Frontier Women's Health Coordinating Center (RFCC)
    • North Country Health Consortium, Inc.

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State of Connecticut

Connecticut does not have an official office on women's health, and there is no dedicated women's health coordinator position. The current coordinator is a supervising nurse consultant within the Family Health Section of the Department of Public Health (DPH) and supervisor of the Primary Care and Prevention Unit. The state has several unique women's health programs including one focusing on perinatal depression and related mental health problems in mothers and their families. Their unique "Going Home Healthy" project is a model collaboration between the CT DPH and the York Correctional Institute (YCI), CT's only jail/prison for women. It brought together government entities and community resources to address transitioning women from the prison back to the community, including access to SSA and Medicaid prior to release.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit their website at http://www.ct.gov/dph.

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State of Maine

Maine does not have an official Office on Women's Health; however there is a full-time, dedicated women's health coordinator, whose position was previously developed through a HRSA grant in comprehensive women's health. Maine has a unique government/private sector collaboration on women's health entitled the Maine Women's Health Campaign (the Campaign). The Campaign has developed analysis and action plans for comprehensive women's health, adolescent girl's health and women's cardiovascular health in Maine, as well as convened statewide stakeholders meetings. Recently, the Campaign facilitated the development of an updated Maine Women’s Health Profile, released in the Fall of 2011.  The Profile is a resource utilized by public and private organizations that work to improve the health status of women in Maine. Through their HRSA grant, the former Bureau of Health (now the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) was able to develop intergovernmental and interdepartmental working groups focused on integration and coordination of women's health priorities. They also have a women's health advisory board and an internal women's preventive health group at the Maine CDC. The state has several unique women's health projects including: a program designed to develop successful models for integrated behavioral health in the primary care setting for women of reproductive age; a statewide collaborative group focused on incarcerated women's health; Core Health Indicators for gender-based analysis; the Elder Women's Health Indicators project; and the Caregivers' Survey Project.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/index.htm.

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State of Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not have an official Office on Women's Health, and there is no dedicated women's health coordinator position. The current coordinator also serves as the Director of Community Services for the Women's Health Network (BCCEDP). The Commonwealth has historically provided additional state resources for breast cancer screening and research, as well as investigation of environmental factors surrounding breast cancer clusters. The MDPH has several unique women's health programs including: the "Stroke Heroes Act FAST" ( Face, Arm, Speech, Time) training program which teaches the subtle symptoms of stroke and fast response; the SANE ( Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Protocols for persons with disabilities, pediatric cases, and incarcerated persons; the DVSCRIP ( Domestic Violence Screening, Care, Referral and Information Program) training for maternal and child health providers; the Perinatal Connections Project wich aims to increase awareness and decrease stigma associated with perinatal depression and increase access to appropriate mental health services for women and their families; the Batterer's Intervention Program; the "Keep Moving" program for people 50+ ; and the In Situ Breast Cancer and Mammography Licensing Reports. In addition, they operate a program entitled Mass CHIP (Community Health Information Profile) which provides community-based access to health status indicators, health outcomes, program utilization, and demographic data sets at the state, regional and town levels.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit http://www.mass.gov/dph.

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State of New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not have an official office on women's health, and there is no dedicated women's health coordinator position. The state's primary current women's health initiative is a Birth Outcomes Workgroup working toward a coordinated public private-initiative to increase positive birth outcomes by promoting adequate prenatal care and efforts to enhance overall women's health. Other projects have included observation of Women's Health Week over the past 3 years, the development of a Women's Health Toolkit highlighting basic health promotion messages and the creation of an Osteoporosis Information Kit which includes a series of ready-to-copy fact sheets designed for use by health educators and providers. The Commission on the Status of Women has championed the issues of incarcerated women and recently released a report entitled Double Jeopardy: A Report on Training and Education Programs for New Hampshire's Female Offenders. A new initiative in the planning stages will bring information on women's heart health to state employees and others through observance of Wear Red Day in February.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/HHS/HHS_SITE/default.htm.

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State of Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the only New England state with an official Office of Women's Health. Carrie Bridges is the Team Lead for Health Disparities and Access to Care in the Division of Community, Family Health and Equity at the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH). In this role, Ms. Bridges oversees the Office of Minority Health, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, Office of Special Health Care Needs, and Office of Women's Health. Collectively, this team leads HEALTH initiatives to achieve health equity in Rhode Island by eliminating health disparities, with an emphasis on those disparities disproportionately impacting racial and ethnic minority communities. There is also an Office on Women's Health Advisory Committee and an internal workgroup on women's health. The state has several unique women's health programs including: an annual women's health conference (The Faces of Women's Health) to increase knowledge of women's health issues among service providers; Health Policy Briefs on various topics such as Osteoporosis and HIV/AIDS; a Strategic Plan developed by the Advisory Committee with input from Community Forums and review of an Internal Assessment document. The Family Planning Program in the Department of Health has funded a unique program with the RI Department of Corrections linking incarcerated women to family planning and reproductive health services at a local community health center.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit http://www.health.ri.gov, http://www.health.ri.gov/disease/owh/, and http://www.health.ri.gov/family/ofyss/fp/.

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State of Vermont

Vermont does not have an official Office on Women's Health, and there is no dedicated women's health coordinator position. The state has developed a Women's Health Status Report which is a 17 page booklet that includes facts and figures about various trends in women's health care in Vermont. Topics covered include: access to care, alcohol and drug use, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, injury and violence, tobacco, obesity and physical activity. In addition, the Health Department has been involved in a Health Care for Incarcerated Women Project which included training community and facility-based health care professionals in the health needs of incarcerated women as well as a workgroup to define and address health care issues for incarcerated women and those transitioning from prison into local communities. The Department of Corrections along with community and other state agency partners is spearheading a series of day long trainings entitled, "Moving Toward Community and Healing: Transforming our Work with Criminal Justice Involved Women" to decrease the number of Vermont women who are incarcerated.

For more details on this state's women's health activities, visit http://www.healthyvermonters.info.

Content last updated December 4, 2009.

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A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. • Washington, DC 20201