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Connections 2014: Addressing Healthcare Access, Cost and Quality in Georgia

On April 22-23, 2014 more than 300 Healthcare Georgia Foundation grantees, partners and community leaders gathered at Connections 2014: Addressing Healthcare Access, Cost and Quality in Georgia, the Foundation's sixth, biannual statewide convening of grantees, partners and community leaders. This year's theme, Addressing Healthcare Access, Cost and Quality in Georgia, focused on conversations and sessions that addressed all three elements of the healthcare equation, critical to understanding how together attendees could improve healthcare in our state.

In response to feedback from past convenings, Connections 2014 featured several changes: a change in the format of our program, venue, and even more opportunities for attendees to network. 

Program Information:

View or download program >>

Tuesday, May 22, 2014

Keynote Address:

Reed Tuckson, MD, FACP
Managing Director
Tuckson Health Connections, LLC




Connections 2014 began with an energetic and motivational presentation by Dr. Reed Tuckson, of Tuckson Healthcare Communications. Dr. Tuckson’s approach brings people and ideas together to promote optimal health outcomes and value through innovation and integration across the fields of prevention; public health; consumer activation; quality care delivery; the translation of science and technology into value producing interventions; and optimization of big data and analytics. His presentation focused on The Challenges and Opportunities of Enhancing Access, Cost Efficiency and Care Quality From a Patient Perspective.

Following Dr. Tuckson’s presentation, the session featured a short video presentation of Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care. Patient care is more than just healing -- it's building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul. This video was provided by the Cleveland Clinic as a courtesy to the Foundation and can be viewed below. 

Video - Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care

View video >>

Courtesy of: The Cleveland Clinic

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Strengthening Capacity to Enhance Healthcare Access, Provision and Quality: Same Public Health Problem, Slightly Different Solutions
This session is a discussion of the models implemented to address reproductive and sexual healthcare services, quality and access. The audience will hear from three nonprofit reproductive healthcare organizations about strategies to tackle youth pregnancy prevention and efforts to ensure quality, affordability and accessible health services in a sustainable way.









Pictured (left to right): Nora Spencer, Jane Gitimu, Carmen Carcia, and Donna Elliston


  • Donna Elliston, DrPH, MSPH, Project Director, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential Presentation (PDF)
  • Carmen Garcia, MPH, Lifting Latina Voices Coordinator, Feminist Women’s Health Center
  • Jane Gatimu, MPH, Project Coordinator, Feminist Women’s Health Center 
  • Nora Spencer, Vice President, External Affairs, Planned Parenthood Southeast                   

Meet the Grantmakers: Healthcare Georgia Foundation
In this session, Healthcare Georgia Foundation staff will review the Foundation’s grantmaking priorities and funding programs, online application process, and general application criteria. You will learn about incorporating evaluation and results into your work, how best to communicate with the Foundation, and resources available to assist with documenting the results of your grant. Participants will also receive an overview of reporting and financial requirements. Presentation (PDF)


  • Racquel Lee-Sin, MPA, Grants Manager, Healthcare Georgia Foundation 
  • Lisa Medellin, MSW, Senior Program Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation
  • Michael J. Sweeney,III, Chief Financial Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation  

It’s Not Just Diet and Exercise: Exploring How the Social Determinants of Health Impact Child Health 
The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. High health care costs can result not only from a child’s underlying medical condition, but also from a result of isolated communities, lack of social support services, transportation barriers and unemployment. In this session, participants will gain a better understanding of the effects of poverty on health care and the types of services that can address these issues. Participants will discuss how to help children and families in various settings, including the home and schools.










Pictured: Veda Johnson


Georgians' Views on Healthcare Access, Cost and Quality
In 2013, two statewide public opinion surveys were conducted to capture how Georgians view their current healthcare, health reform, and changes in healthcare access, cost and quality. Conducted by The Schapiro Group, the polls gauge Georgia residents’ experiences with, and opinions on, a broad range of healthcare issues. How well is the ACA understood?  Who is most likely to support the ACA?  How well do young people and the uninsured understand the law?  This session will introduce the purpose, methodology, and results of two statewide polls conducted and reported by Beth Schapiro with commentary provided by healthcare advocates.

Presenter: Beth Schapiro, PhD, President, The Schapiro Group Presentation (PDF)

Pictured (left to right): Cheryl Christian, Harry Heinman, Beth Schapiro, and Linda Lowe


  • Harry J. Heinman, MD, MPH, Morehouse School of Medicine, Satcher Health Leaership Institute
  • Linda Lowe, Emeritus Board Member, Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Building Organizational Sustainability Through Capacity Building
Healthcare Georgia Foundation, through the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, initiated a five phase Capacity Building Project to support health nonprofits in Georgia, this session will explain how an integrated capacity building process leads to enhanced leadership, management, adaptive and technical capacities that support ongoing organizational sustainability. Presentation (PDF)


  • Neil Sklarew, MS, MBA, Consultant
  • Ann Webb Price, PhD, President, Community Evaluation Solutions, Inc.


Strategic Thinking with Developmental Evaluation: Embracing Uncertainty and Innovation         
Strategic planning and evaluation are often visualized in a sequenced circle – plan, implement, and evaluate. Strategic thinking with evaluation is a Mobius strip – a continuous loop of activities – observation, orientation, experimentation, pattern recognition, and learning. Developmental Evaluation provides the guidance needed for this type of innovative implementation. This presentation will describe the work of Georgia Family Connection Partnership and two multi-county cohorts using this approach.


  • Rebekah Hudgins, MA, MPH, Research and Evaluation Consultant, Georgia Family Connection Partnership Presentation (PDF)         
  • Sayge Medlin, MSW, Director of Strategy Integration and Special Projects, Georgia Family Connection Partnership             

Breaking Boundaries: Collaborative Approaches to Expanding Access to Primary Care and Addressing Health Disparities
In a time of shrinking resources, collaboration is key to effective program implementation. In this session, speakers will describe how their innovative collaborations provide training opportunities to develop a culturally sensitive healthcare workforce to expand access to primary care to vulnerable, diverse populations. Speakers will discuss the shifting demographics of Georgia’s communities and the unique challenges and opportunities this brings to the primary healthcare system. Participants will learn of a partnership to ensure that providers receive culturally competent training to interact with limited English proficient patients and a collaboration to bring primary care services to more than 500 migrant farmworkers annually in Southeast Georgia. 


  • Leng Leng Chancey, BA, Vice President of Operations, Culture Connect, Inc. Presentation (PDF)
  • Corina Florez, Program Director, Southeast Georgia Communities Project
  • Mary Kate Pung, MSPH, Center Director, Magnolia Coastlands Area Health Education Center 
  • Ana Soler, MPH, Director of Education, Culture Connect, Inc. 
  • Jennie Wren Denmark, CEO, East Georgia Healthcare Center

Positioning Your Program for Sustainability 
Have you ever wondered why some programs appear to thrive and grow effortlessly? This session will discuss the range of sustainable impacts that communities can plan for when implementing community health programs. Participants will learn about a sustainability framework that helps organizations and collaborative efforts position their programs and partnerships for long-term sustainability by focusing on a set of core components that drive sustainability and sustained impact. The session will combine an example from a rural health project and small group work to apply concepts presented. Presentation (PDF)


  • John Butts, MPH, Research Associate II, Georgia Health Policy Center
  • Amanda Martinez, MPH, Senior Research Associate, Georgia Health Policy Center

Welcome Reception and 2014 Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award Ceremony
Networking, hors d’oeuvres and live jazz entertainment

On the evening of Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Healthcare Georgia Foundation presented the Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award to four individuals and one collaborative recipient in recognition of their dedication and commitment to improving health and healthcare across Georgia. To learn more about the inspiration work of these volunteer heroes, please click on the links below.


Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award Brochure (PDF)




View or Download >>


Individual Recipients

Ann Boriskie, Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association

Pictured: Gary Nelson, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation, (l), Ann Boriskie, and Dr. Diane Weems, Board Chair, Healthcare Georgia Foundation  

Ann's Award Video:

View Video>>

Anne Clifton, Hearts and Hands Clinic










Pictured (left to right):Racquel Lee-Sin, Grants Manager, Healthcare Georgia Foundation, and Anne Clifton, Hearts and Hands Clinic

Anne's Award Video:










View Video >>

Ho Su Kim, Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS)










Pictured: Gary Nelson, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation, (l), Ho Su Kim, and Dr. Diane Weems, Board Chair, Healthcare Georgia Foundation  











View Video >>

Jobeth Yarbrough, Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center










Pictured: Gary Nelson, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation, (l), Jobeth Yarbrough, and Dr. Diane Weems, Board Chair, Healthcare Georgia Foundation 

View Video >>


Collaborative Recipient

Cancer Coalition of South Georgia 








Pictured: Members of the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia









View Video >>


Wednesday, April 23, 2014








Day Two of Connections started with an invigorating performance by a Valdosta-based group of talented young men called The Sharper Boys. This family of talented performers had the group on their feet. 


Keynote Address

Marian Wright Edelman
Founder and President
Children’s Defense Fund










Ensuring Every Child Access To Affordable Healthcare: A Call To Action

Prolific leader and advocate for disadvantaged Americans Marian Wright Edelman opened Day 2 Connections sessions with an impassioned presentation on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion in Georgia. Mrs. Edelaman focused her session on how these important programs can benefit Georgia’s children and families and how Georgia health nonprofits can leverage the mechanisms in place or raise awareness about underutilized resources to improve the health of all Georgians. 


Collaboratives at Work: Building and Sustaining Community Collaboratives in Georgia
Many talk about community level work and reference “collaboration,” but the majority find this type of work very difficult. This panel includes organizations working in collaboratives in Savannah, Cook County, and Atlanta, GA. Panelists will provide a theoretical framework for collaboration, address the challenges and barriers to building effective collaboratives, and provide examples of strategies to overcome barriers.


  • Chet Ballard, PhD, MS, Professor of Sociology and Evaluation Staff Member, Cook County Family Connection  Presentation (PDF)
  • Tara Jennings, Vice President of Community Initiatives, United Way of the Coastal Empire Presentation (PDF)
  • Rodney Lyn, PhD, MS, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, School of Public Health Presentation (PDF)
  • Zoe Myers, MS, Executive Director, Cook County Family Connection   


Utilizing Quality Telehealth Services in Public Health and School-Based Health to Expand Services to Rural and Underserved Areas
Telehealth and Telemedicine continue to revolutionize when and where we receive the care we need without jeopardizing the quality of care. Georgia has an extensive Telehealth network allowing public health and private practice to carry out their missions and connect with patients using videoconferencing communication and service delivery, even during times of economic hardship such as budget cuts, high travel costs, and reductions in workforce. From pediatric specialty telemedicine services to emergency preparedness, Teledentistry to nutrition services, and staff meetings to trainings, attendees will learn the process of establishing clinics including building partnerships and community involvement. As a bonus, attendees will also get to take virtual tours of clinics, meet the staff, and see the technology in action- all without leaving the conference room!








Pictured: Matt Jansen   


  • Matt Jansen, MPA, Chief Development Officer, Georgia Partnership for Telehealth   Presentation (PDF)
  • Suleima Salgado, MBA, Director of Telehealth & Telemedicine, Georgia Department of Public Health Presentation (PDF)
  • Jackie Woodard, Telehealth Coordinator, Southeast Health District 9-2







Pictured: Jackie Woodard

Taking Care of You: Evidence-Based Approaches to Reducing Adverse Birth Outcomes in Georgia 
The Foundation’s Taking Care of You infant mortality initiative aims to reduce adverse birth outcomes among high disparity populations in Georgia. In this session, participants will learn about the Southwest Health District’s Centering Pregnancy ® Program, an evidence-based patient-centered prenatal care delivery model that improves perinatal outcomes for vulnerable women. Porter Novelli will discuss the Taking Care of You social marketing campaign and provide a framework for how participants can create a theoretical framework for developing and testing social marketing campaign for their organizations and programs. Emory University will discuss the evaluation of the Taking Care of You initiative and explain how nonprofit organizations can work with external evaluators to develop indicators of improved health outcomes.


  • Sarah Blake, PhD, MA, Senior Associate, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University 
  • Anne L. Dunlop, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Associate Professor, Emory University Presentation (PDF)
  • Jacqueline H. Grant, MD, MPH, MPA, District Health Director, Georgia Department of Public Health, Southwest Health District Presentation (PDF)
  • Jana Thomas, MPA, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader, Health and Social Impact, Porter Novelli Presentation (PDF)


Health Policy in Georgia  
This panel discussion will feature presentations from three health care policy organizations on the major health policy issues of 2014 in Georgia. The discussion will include a recap of the 2014 legislative session; the current status of Medicaid expansion in Georgia and policy issues associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Presentation (PDF)


  • Beth Stephens, JD, Health Access Program Director, Georgia Watch
  • Tim Sweeney, Director of Health Policy, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
  • Cindy Zeldin, MPH, MA, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future









Pictured (left to right): Tim Sweeney, Cindy Zeldin, and Beth Stephens

Election Guide 2014:  Georgia’s Candidates for United States Senate Address our State’s Most Critical Health Challenges
In March 2014 Healthcare Georgia Foundation released Election Guide 2014, a publication conceived as a nonpartisan effort to inform Georgia voters about our state’s most pressing health challenges and each candidate’s vision for better health and healthcare. In the context of the ever-changing roles and responsibilities of government, communities and residents, Georgia’s candidates were invited to share their views on access, cost, and quality of healthcare, as well as how Georgia can change the trajectory of health and healthcare in our state. With the assistance of Mathews and Maxwell, Inc., a public affairs firm, the candidates’ responses were prepared and presented in the Guide, precisely as they submitted them. This session will introduce the purpose, methodology and results of the election guide with analysis of candidate responses provided by invited experts.

Presentation (PDF)


  • Scott Maxwell, Mathews and Maxwell, Inc. 
  • Terry Mathews, Mathews and Maxwell, Inc. 


  • Mary Eleanor Wickersham, D.P.A., Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, College of Coastal Georgia
  • Andy Miller, MEd, CEO & Editor, Georgia Health News

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Georgia 
This panel discussion will feature presentations from key community stakeholders engaged in implementing the ACA in Georgia. Panelists will present highlights and lessons learned from three different perspectives: consumers, navigators/partner organizations, and community health centers. The session will also provide participants with an overview of the in-person assistance resources that are available across the state, timeline for the next open enrollment and issues regarding eligibility. 


  • Cathy Bowden, Georgia Association for Primary Health Care
  • Amanda Ptashkin, JD, Outreach and Advocacy Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future
  • Lisa Stein, MBA, Vice President, Work & Family Supports, SEEDCO Presentation (PDF)

A Tale of Two Health Districts’ Journey to Enhanced Quality Improvement 
This session will explore the accreditation journey and lessons learned from two of Georgia’s health districts, the DeKalb County and Gwinnett County Boards of Health. DeKalb and Gwinnett Boards of Health and Georgia Southern all received grants as part of the Foundation’s Georgia Public Health District Accreditation Pilot Program. As part of the accreditation process, both districts developed a community health assessment, community health improvement plan and a department strategic plan. The speakers will explore how the accreditation process developed and strengthened their community partnerships and led to improved quality improvement efforts within their organizations. 


  • Tara Echols, MBA, Community Health Planning Coordinator, Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale County Health Departments Presentation (PDF)
  • S. Elizabeth Ford, MD, MBA, District Health Director, DeKalb County Board of Health Presentation (PDF)
  • Russ Toal, MPH, Director, Office of Public Health Practice and Research, Georgia Southern University Presentation (PDF)








Pictured (left to right): Tara Echols, S. Elizabeth Ford, and Russ Toal

Many attendees took a moment to enjoy a take-home boxed lunch before hitting the road, leaving the event, inspired, energized, and full of innovative ideas to improve the health of their communities.