April 13, 2016 Brown Bag Lunch Forum: Healthy Homes
We’ve all seen the coverage of the issue of lead in Flint, MI, in fact, Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee spoke out early on this issue at our conference last November. But Flint isn’t alone, the issue of lead is a big one in Cleveland and the surrounding communities as well. As we look at housing policies and practices, consideration of health and environmental factors is key. A distinguished panel of experts about lead hazards in the Cleveland area and other health-related housing issues presented on the nature of the problem of health and housing, the impacts on the community, and how individuals, organizations, and communities can work to address lead and other hazards in our housing stock.
Dr. Scott Frank is the founding Director of the Master of Public Health Program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (CWRU SOM), with appointments in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Family Medicine. He is also on the affiliated faculty for the Shubert Center for Child Studies and for the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. In addition to his academic role, Dr. Frank serves as the Director of Health for the City of Shaker Heights. Dr. Frank is involved in a broad variety of research, including topics such as behavior change, tobacco prevention and control, substance abuse prevention, clinical assessment of stress, adolescent health risk, and the role of spirituality and religion in health. He maintains an active Family Practice and is an award winning teacher of residents, medical and public health students. Dr. Frank is currently the curriculum leader for the innovative population health in the CWRU SOM. He serves as Principal Investigator on a RWJ Public Health Practice Based Research Network Grant. Dr. Frank graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and his Medical degree. After completing his Family Practice Residency at Michigan, Dr. Frank completed a RWJ Fellowship at CWRU resulting in a Master of Science in Family Medicine. He later received Fellowship training in Addiction Medicine at CWRU.
Frank served as moderator for the panel discussion and was responsible for introducing the other panelists.
Rachel Dissel has been a reporter for The Plain Dealer since 2002 where she focuses on the impact of violence against women and children and other social justice issues. She has written investigative pieces about Cleveland’s response to sexual assault, teen dating violence, the juvenile justice system. Her work with colleague Leila Atassi spurred statewide changes into how rape kits are tested and has led to the reinvestigation of thousands of rape cases and indictments in 400 previously unsolved rape cases. In addition to numerous state and local awards, Dissell won the 2008 Dart Award for her nine-part series “Johanna: Facing Forward” which chronicled the life of Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland teen who was raped and shot by her ex-boyfriend. The series was the basis of a stage play that opened in Cleveland in May 2015. Most recently she has turned her attention towards investigative writing of lead in homes. In addition to her journalism work, Dissell is a mentor to children aging out of the foster care system and participates in several therapeutic programs for children who have witnessed violence. On top of that, Dissell is an adjunct professor at Kent State University, her alma mater. She gave an overview of the problems with the Cleveland Health Department and their inability to perform inspections, resulting in the problem of lead to continue unaddressed.
Brie Zeltner joined The Plain Dealer in 2002, when she spent a year reporting on health issues as an intern. She returned in 2007 and now focuses on the health effects of poverty on children, families and the greater Northeast Ohio community. She has written extensively on health issues that disproportionately affect Cleveland’s poor and minority children, including infant mortality, asthma, and lead poisoning. In 2015, Zeltner received the New York Academy of Medicine’s inaugural Urban Journalism award. She has also won numerous state and national awards for her work, including a feature report honored by the Epilepsy Foundation’s Distinguished Journalism awards and a three-part investigative series on the FDA’s drug approval process. Zeltner is a Cleveland native and resident, and graduate of Dartmouth College, where she studied biology. Zeltner contributed to the panel by highlighting the studies and research showing the health effects of poverty on children, specifically in Cleveland.
Kim Foreman is the Executive Director of Environmental Health Watch. She commenced working for EHW part-time in 1999 and became a full-time health educator in 2001. Since assuming the position of Executive Director, Kim has focused on environmental justice issues and adverse outcomes of environmental exposures, both indoors and outdoors, that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities. Kim earned an associate degree from Cuyahoga Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University. Kim is a Licensed Lead Risk Assessor, and Roots of Success Instructor.Foreman's group has been working with the city in order to monitor children with lead poisoning. There group was affected by the lack of a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Foreman highlighted the problem of not enough resources being available to assist families in finding homes that are lead free and monitoring families who have been affected by lead.
Judge Pianka began his civic career while an undergraduate student at Cleveland State University. In the early 1970’s he was one of the founders of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization located in the neighborhood where he has lived his entire life. He served as the organization’s first executive director while attending Cleveland Marshall College of Law. As the executive director he worked to increase citizen participation, initiated neighborhood and economic development projects and was actively involved in saving the Gordon Square Arcade from demolition. Today the Gordon Square Arcade serves as the beacon for the thriving Gordon Square Arts District. In 1985 Pianka was elected to serve as the councilman for Ward 17 and served in Cleveland City Council for ten years. While in city council he served as chairman of the Community and Economic Development Committee. Then, 1995 he was elected to serve in the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court. Since the Housing Court’s inception in 1980 he was only the sixth judge to hold this position. When he ran for reelection in 2007 he was unopposed and was the only judicial candidate to receive the rating of excellent by all local bar associations. As the Judge of the Housing Court he has implemented numerous innovative programs to obtain compliance with the City of Cleveland’s building, housing, and health codes. Pianka talked about the courts perspective in enforcing lead regulations on properties and their owners. Specifically, the issue he sees is that the system is based on complaints only, instead a regular, systemic inspections program.
As of April 13th
Toxic Neglect: Lead Poisoning Series: written by our two Plain Dealer Panelists, here is an overview and in depth exploration of the terrible conditions of the homes and people affected by lead poisoning.