Public health symposium, Baker Lecture to explore uses of social media

Dr. Bechara ChoucairSocial media is assuming increasing importance as a tool for sharing information and alerting the public about health issues.

“Social Media and Risk Communication” is the topic of the inaugural public health symposium and 2015 Ned E. Baker Lecture on April 9 at Bowling Green State University, hosted by the College of Health and Human Services.

Presenting the Baker lecture as the keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Bechara Choucair, recently named senior vice president of safety net transformation and communication benefit at Trinity Health and former commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Dr. Choucair will speak from 9-10:15 a.m. in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, followed by a panel discussion from 10:30-11:30 a.m. with community experts Brad Gilbert, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency; Stacy Weber, public information officer for the Toledo mayor’s office, and Dr. Nicholas Espinoza, medical director of the Falcon Health Center.

At the end of the symposium, participants will be able to identify how the use of social media can strengthen overall public health communication; list social media strategies implemented in Chicago and northwest Ohio to improve public health; discuss the evaluation findings of the use of social media by the Chicago Department of Public Health and in northwest Ohio; and learn how to engage key community partners to incorporate innovation and technology into public health planning.

The cost to attend the symposium is $35 for the public, but free for BGSU and University of Toledo faculty and students. Register online at www.bgsu.edu/baker. For more information, contact Jennifer Wagner at HHSevents@bgsu.edu or 419-372-7773. Continuing education has been approved for 2.5 continuing education clock hours (CECH) by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing Inc., and 2.25 hours by the Ohio State Board of Sanitarian Registration. Continuing education is pending for nursing home administrators.

In his new position with Trinity Health, Dr. Choucair works directly with the system’s regional health ministries to focus on local safety net systems for poor and vulnerable populations. His work will include the development of new care delivery models and new relationships with payers, public health agencies and community organizations.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Choucair began his career as a family physician after earning degrees from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the University of Texas at Dallas. From 2009 until last December he served as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, where he received praise from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for making Chicago “a healthier city today . . . and a national leader in public health.”

The Ned E. Baker Lecture in Public Health was established in 1999 to honor Baker's many contributions to the field. Baker's professional career included service as a sanitarian with the Wood County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health, a health planner and associate executive director for the Health Planning Association of Northwest Ohio, and director for the Northwest Ohio Area Health Education Center at the Medical College of Ohio. He served 12 years on the Wood County Board of Health, including two terms as its president. In 1992, he was a founding member of the National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH). As NALBOH's first executive director, 1995-98, he established the association's headquarters in Bowling Green.