IMPH Hosts Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Training Sponsored by the Piedmont Health Foundation

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) and the Piedmont Health Foundation convened stakeholders from Greenville area organizations on March 26, 2012 to provide training on the purpose and use of the health impact assessment (HIA) as a tool for incorporating health decisions into community decision making.

Twenty-five stakeholders participated, including representatives from the Hub City Farm, LiveWell Greenville, Alta Planning, Partners for Active Living, Upstate Forever, Spartanburg Area Transportation Authority Study (SPATS), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the County of Greenville, Upstate Forever, the Piedmont Health Foundation, Arnett Muldrow Consulting, the City of Greenville, the Greenville Hospital System and Greenville Forward.

“We were eager to share the concept and approach of a health impact assessment with colleagues within health and planning as well as other disciplines,” Maya Pack, IMPH Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives and one of the training facilitators, said.

Christa Jordan, livability grant coordinator for economic and community development for the City of Greenville and a participant in the training, said, “The HIA training gave me a better appreciation for the health impacts of development. I appreciate the data-driven aspects of the HIA, and think it will increase the value of the Connections for Sustainability planning project for City residents.”

Pack provided an overview of HIAs and provided examples of HIAs from across the nation during the morning session. Lisa Bollinger, representing SPATS, and Laura Ringo, representing Partners for Active Living, shared background about the first HIA conducted in South Carolina, which was a collaborative effort between IMPH, DHEC, SPATS, and Partners for Active Living on the potential impact of a proposed road project in Spartanburg, S.C.

In the afternoon, attendees completed group exercises to lay the groundwork for the state’s first comprehensive HIA, for which IMPH recently received a grant from the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) and the Health Impact Project. IMPH will partner with the City of Greenville to examine the potential effects of possible expansion and addition of parks, green space and trails in three low-to-moderate income neighborhoods in Greenville’s west side, West Greenville, West End and Southernside. This project will begin in late spring and conclude in the beginning of 2013.

This HIA will contribute to a larger initiative, “Connections for Sustainability: Linking Greenville’s Neighborhoods to Jobs and Open Space” that the City of Greenville is undertaking with a $1.8 million grant from the HUD Community Challenge and DOT Tiger II Planning Grants as well as more than $1 million in local and federal investments. Prior to the group exercise portion of the training, Wayne Leftwich, community planner for the City of Greenville, shared research and planning currently under way for this project.

The City of Greenville identifies the HIA as a beneficial contribution to its planning initiatives. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity to partner with IMPH on what is perhaps one of the City of Greenville’s most comprehensive quality of life initiatives to date,” Leftwich said. “Their collaboration on this project will enable us to approach the planning process in a truly holistic manner.”

IMPH looks forward to continued work sharing knowledge about health impact assessments to increase the capacity to conduct and apply this strategy for decision-making in South Carolina.
“The level of engagement and participation at the training exceeded my expectations,” Pack said. “I think everyone who participated connected with the idea of considering health in all policies, because we all realize that our environment has a significant impact on our population’s health.”

Digital copies of presentations made at the workshop are available here:
HIA 101 – Maya Pack, IMPH
Spartanburg HIA – Laura Ringo, Partners for Active Living and Lisa Bollinger, SPATS
Connections Project Description – Wayne Leftwich, City of Greenville
For more information on our work with HIAs, please see our Initiatives section.

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