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Vision Care
Section Newsletter
Fall 2006

Chair's Corner

This year got off the ground a little slow in part due to Hurricane Katrina shutting down New Orleans, the planned 2005 APHA Annual Meeting site.  The Annual Meeting was postponed from November in New Orleans to December in Philadelphia.  After the first of the year, the VCS became very busy in trying to catch up on those activities that were a little late in being organized.  I am proud to say, though being a little delinquent in keeping the membership informed, your Section leadership has been quite active this year. 

Most of the many activities of the VCS will be reported by others in this newsletter.  Greg Hom busily worked with an author to get a resolution written to present to the policy consideration process; Ian Berger led the nominations committee in putting forth a slate for the Section’s elected positions with the election being held in the spring by online ballot; Satya Verma again led the Awards Committee in the selection process for our three outstanding award recipients to be honored during the Annual Meeting; the Program Committee under the superb leadership of Sandra Block put together the outstanding program you will read about below; the Membership Committee under the experienced leadership of Morton Silverman has worked diligently to keep our Section membership numbers up; and the Governing Councilors and the Section Councilors have been busy reviewing and re-reviewing proposed policy resolutions submitted by all sections of the APHA.  I cannot say enough for our Section members, Norma Bowyer, Debbie Hettler-Arbeitman, and Siu Wong, who have been very active with the APHA’s Action Board, Education Board, Joint Policy Committee, and Editorial Board.  And last, but not least, I feel honored that a member of the Vision Care Section, Melvin Shipp, is serving his second term as APHA treasurer, after helping to lead the Association through some difficult fiscal times.

What has your chair been doing?  Mostly I have been busy learning what needed to be done and asking others to help, which was almost always answered by a unanimous yes.  I have also learned that, even though a small section, the work needed is tremendous and requires orchestrating many activities.  We are always looking for ‘new blood’ to help us in our endeavors.  You are welcome to step up and volunteer.

I have had a couple of nice experiences as your chair.  Well, one maybe only secondarily as your chair, but a significant public health activity that has received support from the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many others.  In 2005, the CDC introduced for the first time a vision module, “Visual Impairment and Access to Eye Care” to be used with the state directed telephone surveys on health known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.  This module of vision questions was used in five states, with Texas being one of the five.  I was privileged to be invited to present some of the results of the Texas survey to the CDC Annual Risk Factor Surveillance System conference in March of this year in Cathedral City, Calif.  I will be making a presentation on this topic at one of the scientific sessions sponsored by the VCS during the APHA Annual Meeting in Boston.  This survey is being conducted in 11 states this year, and we hope in all 50 states in the not too distant future.  We need baseline data against which we can measure our visual health activities.  We are finding needs.  By the way, there are many exciting vision related lectures at this year’s Annual Meeting; try to make as many as possible.

I was also invited, as chair of the Vision Care Section, to participate in an ‘expert panel’ in April at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta for the developing National Vision Program.  Representatives from strategic sectors interested in the visual health of the public were invited to participate.  Keep your eyes open for an expected forthcoming CDC report, “Improving the Nation’s Vision Health: A Coordinated Public Health Approach.”

Upcoming Annual Meeting
We are rapidly coming upon the 134th APHA Annual Meeting to be held in Boston from Nov. 4-8, 2006.  The Vision Care Section will be holding business meetings and sponsoring scientific sessions throughout the Annual Meeting.  I encourage you to go to the Vision Care Section’s Web site at for more information about Section activities.  In the menu on the left side of the VCS home page, click on Upcoming Events and you will find most of the Vision Care Section related activities scheduled for the Annual Meeting.  However, as noted, event times and locations are subject to change or cancellation.  You should go to, for the most up to date information regarding schedules, activities, presentation abstracts, etc. for the Annual Meeting.  While the specific locations for activities may not be listed until closer to the meeting, they will be available in the registration materials on site.  By clicking on “2006 Online Program” on the above APHA Web address and then clicking on any section, you can find the programs and abstracts associated with each section or affiliate. 

In addition to the section activities, there are many more exciting proceedings going on at this very large meeting of professionals interested in the public’s health. The Governing Council of APHA holds sessions to discuss proposed APHA policy positions and other business.  The VCS has a proposed resolution for APHA policy before the APHA governing body.  You will see a story about this proposal in another article in this newsletter.  You can learn more about all the activities occurring during the Annual Meeting at the APHA Web site.

Any of our Vision Care Section members planning to attend the Annual Meeting are invited to attend the business meetings of the VCS. We would like to encourage more of our Section members to become active in Section activities.  If you have never or it has been some time since you last served either as an elected officer or as a committee member and you would be interested in being considered for either at this time, please send an e-mail message to me at for consideration for an elective position, or to Greg Hom, the chair-elect, at if you may be interested in a committee appointment.  Either of us can provide you with more information.  Greg will assume the chair position at the last business meeting of the VCS in Boston and is putting his administrative groups together now.  The nominations committee will be considering those interested in running for elected positions shortly after the Annual Meeting.

Newly Elected to Vision Care Section Positions
The following, elected by Vision Care Section members this past spring, will assume office at the end of the upcoming Annual Meeting:

Chair-elect:  Mort Soroka
Secretary-elect:  Joan Stelmack
Section Councilors: Lori Ann Kehler, Kavita Mistry
Governing Councilor:  Debbie L. Hettler-Arbeitman

Current Vision Care Section Leadership
The following hold either elected or appointed positions in the Vision Care Section:

Chair:  R. Norman Bailey
Chair-elect:  Greg Hom
Immediate Past Chair:  Ian B. Berger
Secretary: Joan Stelmack (acting)
Governing Councilors:  Elizabeth Hoppe, Debbie L. Hettler-Arbeitman
Section Councilors:  Cnocetta Daurio, Bernard Maslovitz, Sandra Block, Jerry Vincent, Sima Lal Gupta, Gregory Wolfe
Awards Committee:  Satya Verma, Chair; Lester Caplan, Kevin Frick
Annual Meeting Booth Committee:  Scott Pike, Chair; Gary Chu
Membership Committee:  Morton Silverman, Chair; Sima Lal Gupta
Nominations Committee:  Ian Berger, Chair; Gregory Hom, Elizabeth Hoppe, John Whitener
Program Committee:  Sandra Block, Chair; Stacy Lyons, Kelly Nichols
Resolutions Committee:  Greg Hom, Chair

Vision Care Section Member Holding APHA Elected Position
APHA Treasurer:  Melvin B. Shipp

Vision Care Section Members Holding APHA Appointed Positions
APHA Action Board:  Norma Bowyer
APHA Editorial Board:  Siu Wong
APHA Education Board:  Debbie Hettler-Arbeitman
APHA Joint Policy Committee:  Debbie Hettler-Arbeitman

Eye Opener Breakfast and Awards Reception

AOA will cosponsor with the American Podiatric Medical Association the annual Eye Opener Breakfast for APHA leadership and members of the Vision Care Section and Podiatric Medical Section.  The event will be on Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. in the Westin Waterfront Hotel, Commonwealth Ballroom C.  Invitees include candidates running for APHA offices, as well as APHA Executive Board members, Governing Council representatives and Section leadership.

Immediately following the Eye Opener Breakfast at 8:00 a.m. in the same room, the Vision Care Section will award its Distinguished Service Award to the Camden Eye Center. Dr. Larry Ragone will accept this award that is sponsored by a Vistakon grant.  The Outstanding Student Paper/Project Award will be given to the Eye Community Outreach Program at the Indiana School of Optometry. The award will be received by Dewana Allan and Kelli Barker. The Beta Sigma Kappa Vision Care Section Outstanding Student Project/Paper Award will be awarded to seven students at Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University.

John C. Whitener, OD, MPH

Satya Verma, OD

Governing Council

What do the VCS representatives to the Governing Council do? The responsibilities include representing Vision Care Section positions at the Governing Council meeting, attending the Candidate’s Forum of the Governing Council and informing the Section Council about the candidates for organization-wide elected positions, attending the Annual Vision Care Section Business Meeting and reporting on Governing Council activities, monitoring the development of APHA policies and attending the open hearings of the Joint Policy Committee, participating in interim phone conference calls of the Governing Council and APHA Executive Committee, and voting on all matters before the Governing Council.

This year, Dr. Debbie Hettler is also serving on the Joint Policy Committee. In this role, she has participated in reviewing the proposed policy resolutions that have been submitted in Section D. Each proposal was reviewed for scientific accuracy, expert opinion, formatting and appropriateness to the organization. Dr. Hettler will be moderating the open hearing on Sunday, Nov. 6. Four open hearings, one for each policy resolution group, will be held beginning at 3:30 p.m. All members of the VCS are invited to attend the hearings and to share their opinion about the proposed policy resolutions with section leadership.

The APHA Joint Policy Committee

The public policy development process is the mechanism by which APHA addresses external policy matters. It is intended to develop recommendations for the policy guidance of others. The Joint Policy Committee (JPC) is to "review, and assess all proposed resolutions and position papers, report its initial recommendations for adoption to authors, make a final decision to submit them for hearings, review late-breaking resolutions and recommend those that meet the criteria for hearings, organize and coordinate the hearings, review the comments and suggestions presented at the hearings and incorporating those that improve the proposed policy, create a consent agenda and report its final recommendations for adoption to the Governing Council for its vote." 

JPC is made up of members selected from the Education Board, Action Board and Science Board. This year, 24 resolutions were reviewed, along with comments on the resolutions from the SPIGs and Sections. At the face-to-face meeting this past April, an initial group assessment of positive, conditional or negative was made for each resolution. My impression was that most resolutions received a conditional assessment, which means that the resolution will be reconsidered with some revisions. The resolution submitted by the Vision Care Section was included in this group. 

During the conference call over the summer, resubmitted resolutions are reconsidered, along with the overall procedural modifications that will be suggested for the process in the future. Each year, members are asked to identify public health subjects within APHA's policy database that are in need of review and submit their suggestions to APHA. The list of policies proposed for archiving is given to JPC which then approves their posting on the APHA Web site. There are also open hearings during the Annual Meeting, where anyone who has not yet had the opportunity to comment on the resolutions has the option of making suggestions. After the open hearings, JPC goes into a closed session of the committee in executive session, usually scheduled for all day on Monday. With regard to each public policy proposal, at this final "mark-up" meeting, the JPC will review recommendations from Hearing Committees including any changes agreed to by the Hearing Committee during the hearings, and any additional relevant information. The JPC will then prepare its final report to the Governing Council.

I enjoyed the opportunity to work on JPC this year, but I was surprised at the amount of work required to review the resolutions and references multiple times. I have had the pleasure of working with some very detailed scientific minds. I was amazed at the items they brought up that had not occurred to me.  The process of group dynamics is very interesting in such a diverse group. This meant that if you were assigned as the primary reviewer for a resolution, you were required to review references as well as all relevant material, including previous APHA policy. When anybody on the committee did not do the proper research and preparation prior to the meeting, it made the process more difficult. Certainly, it was a great opportunity to work on policy development.

APHA Education Board

The APHA Education Board provided the following update for the APHA Executive Board on Aug. 28, 2006.

"The Education Board’s function is to stimulate and coordinate the education activities of the Association; to maintain and enhance professional knowledge; to increase technological proficiencies in facilitating the delivery of education; to enable members to promote and protect environmental and community health; and to educate the public concerning public health issues.


There are 16 members of the Board representing a broad cross-section of the Association.  Five of these members are due to rotate off of the Board following this year’s Annual Meeting.  All have expressed an interest in being re-appointed to the Board, and in light of their hard work, dedication and commitment it is recommended that serious consideration be given to re-appointing them.  They have been among the most active and productive members of the Board over the past three years, and we need their experience and expertise as we try to engage the newer members of the Board in the activities outlined below.


  1. The Board’s midyear meeting was held April 24-25 at the Hampton Inn/APHA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Since much of the work of the Board has taken place at its two face-to-face meetings, the key elements of this meeting are reported below.
  2. The Annual Meeting will be held the mornings of Nov. 6 and 8, 2006 in Boston.

Key Actions Taken This Year

Strategic Plan
The strategic plan was last revised in 2003 and was discussed at the 2006 Midyear meeting.  It was agreed that the Vision, Mission, 4 major Goals, and 8 Action Priorities were still appropriate and relevant.  The challenge is to move forward on accomplishing these. 

The Board, using a group planning process at the midyear meeting, selected three sets of activities and formed three committees, on which to concentrate our activities during the coming year: Continuing Education, Technology, and the Public Health Workforce.  Work in these three areas includes activities that advance each of the 8 action priorities and will permit the Board to concentrate our efforts in a few concrete actions.  The committee leads will prepare a report to the Board for review and Progress Reports are due to the chair by Sept. 15.


Technology Committee:  Lead: Gerald Ohta; Members: Amos Deinard, Delois Dilworth-Berry, Angela Powell.  Focus: Strategic Plan #4.  Envision/develop innovative or reconfigured continuing education programs for APHA at annual or regional meetings and through distance technologies. 
The committee is to assess the Association’s capacity and resources for providing CE through a variety of mechanisms other than face-to-face classroom experience.  They are tasked with:

  • Presume, identify and development of CE programs.
  • Figure out what is available.
  • Use available or innovators.
  • Develop APHA standards.
  • Consider what is the appropriate audience.

Public Health Workforce Committee:  Lead: Chris Day; Members: J. Henry Montes, Mike Gimmel, John Neuberger.  Focus:  Strategic Plan # 3 – Provide leadership for APHA activities related to credentialing of the public health workforce.  Strategic Plan # 8 – Increase understanding and support by Public Health practitioners of the role and importance of practitioners having academic preparation at accredited programs/schools.  This committee is looking at the broad issues including:

  • Credentialing;
  • Competencies;
  • Recruitment and Retention;
  • Accreditation – schools & organizations/agencies;
  • Research – practice focused/community based;
  • Education of public officials about important policy issues;
  • Teaching/integrating concepts in undergraduate public health degree programs and k – 12 programs;
  • Communications;
  • Funding and development; and 
  • Technology to support above.

Discussion among members at the midyear meeting recognized that as part of the work of the Task Force on Association Improvement and Reorganization, or TFAIR, the development of a workforce board was proposed.  The committee does not see this, necessarily, as a conflict because this committee will focus primarily on aspects of workforce development affected by education.   

Summary of Activities to Date:

  1. Changed name of Credentialing Subcommittee to Workforce Committee;
  2. Generated a list of potential activities to be carried out in the next three years based on the Board’s strategic plan; and
  3. Began planning a sponsored session at the APHA Annual Meeting with ASPH about the work of the National Board of Public Health Examiners in developing a process to credential MPH graduates.

Expected progress by the Annual Meeting:

  1. Finalize plans for convening the session at APHA on Credentialing MPH Graduates;
  2. Identify 2-3 priorities from the list previously generated and begin work toward achieving these priorities; and
  3. Determine the impact, if any, that the dissolution of the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice will have on the priority activities of the Workforce subcommittee.

Continuing Education Committee: Lead: Debbie Hettler-Arbeitman; Members: Drew Harris, Jack Lanier and Susan Radius. Focus:  Strategic Plan #5 - Propose and review methods for ongoing assessment of the educational needs of the APHA membership and the public health workforce.  Strategic Plan #6 – Propose and review activities for the assurance of the quality of APHA educational offerings, and Strategic Plan #7 – Oversee and support the attainment and maintenance of disciplinary accreditation for the provision and approval of continuing education.

The committee is responsible for developing & finalizing an action plan that will: 

  • Articulate standards for evaluation of CEIs and other CE experiences.
  • Develop a listing of priority areas for developing CE programs.
  • Provide oversight to CE credentialing/certification process.

The committee is attempting to identify and collaborate with external partners to provide new CEI marketing opportunities.  Priorities for CEI development were to aid in the establishment of CEI topics of value to Association organizational units such as sections and SPIGS.  The 2007 Needs assessment survey was sent to 4,999 members on July 9 with a deadline for response of Sept. 22.  The needs assessment was revised last year, and was used again this year (strategic plan 5.3).  The committee uses these results to provide oversight to the analysis system used to suggest continued changes to the CE offerings by various APHA units.

The committee is working with APHA staff to articulate standards for quality review of CEI's that incorporate the requirements for CE accrediting bodies as well as criteria developed by the Education Board (strategic plan 6.1).  New criteria were developed to provide uniform and consistent assessment in all categories of CEI submissions (i.e. new submissions, legacy, contractual and invited) as well as the use of evaluations to establish and improve CEI offerings.  This has worked well this year as long as the review group received the abstracts with enough lead time to perform the reviews. The CEI submission form has suggested modifications to reflect these criteria.

The Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Committee reports to the Education Board (strategic plan 7.1).  Alan Baker provides reports to the Education Board at both the mid-year and annual meeting (Strategic plan 7.5).  APHA has added a co-providing page to its Web site that informs members as to how they can co-provide with APHA to get CE credits for their activities (Strategic plan 7.6).  (

The committee leads will review and update the strategic plan for the next three years.

Continuing Education/Professional Development
Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Policies:  Dr. M. Beth Benedict, chair of the PHN Education Section, led a discussion on all required policies for re-accreditation.

  • COI – There are two changes to the COI form.  APHA must manage the COI process and disclosure is the lowest level of management.
  • Commercial Support – ANCC to accept ACCME restriction on commercial support.  This means no use of commercial brand names in any documentation.  Motion was made and passed that APHA staff will inform the speakers that they must be in compliance and not have any commercial bread names on any slide presentation or they will not receive CE credits for their session.  It must also be clearly stated that the commercial supporter for the program does not pay for advertisement and promotional materials.

Recertification as providers/certifiers of continuing education for the following groups:

  • ANCC – An update on changes made by ANCC was given by the Chair of the PHN Education Section.  APHA can co-provide all three CME, CNE, CHES; submit the provider application in August; site-visit this fall and new co-provider agreement forms available.
  • ACCME – The CPE Committee reported that the ACCME Self Study is due September 8, 2006.  With some minor edits the report was complete.  The ACCME report was accepted.
  • CHES.

Town Hall Meetings
A Report on the Town Hall meeting at the most recent APHA Annual Meeting was received and discussed.  A couple of points needed to be clarified/explained before the report was forwarded to the Executive Board.  At the request of ASPH and APHA staff the Education Board, through its PH Workforce Committee, will help organize a similar Town Hall meeting for the upcoming Annual Meeting."

Vision Care Section Sponsors Proposed Policy Statement

The Vision Care Section has submitted a proposed policy statement to be considered for enactment as official substantive policy by APHA.

The proposed policy statement, “Promoting the Use of Protective Eyewear in Sports”, is a product of the hard work of Dr. Paul Berman of Hackensack, N.J.  The proposed resolution follows on the heels of a law enacted in the state of New Jersey that requires use of sports protective eyewear by children and facilitates the availability of grants to pay for sports eye protection for children who cannot afford them.

The proposed resolution advocates:

- that all participants in certain risky sports utilize appropriate protective eyewear.
- education, communication and legislation promoting use of sports eye protection.

Hearings on the proposed policy statement, among other proposed resolutions,will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 4, at the APHA Annual Meeting in Boston.

Join Your State Affiliate at the Annual Meeting

While APHA is the national voice on public health, it cannot succeed without the complementary efforts of its state Affiliates. To help build infrastructure and strengthen local efforts, APHA will be implementing an exciting new initiative to promote Affiliate membership at this year's Annual Meeting. This new project includes a booth at the Exposition that gives meeting attendees an opportunity to join their local Affiliate on site electronically. To join your state public health association, please visit the Affiliate membership booth, numbers 942 and 1041 in the exhibit hall, located near “Everything APHA.” If you are interested in volunteering to help staff the booth, contact Katie Sheedy at (202) 777-2432 or