by Andrew Whelan For something that impacts us every second of every day, air quality can seem very intangible compared to other day-to-day concerns. “Most people don’t even think about air pollution,” explains Thomas Hillis. “It can be easy to just forget about,...read more
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA) is a statewide network of medical and health professionals leading the call for cleaner air and climate health. MAHA members learn about the health impacts of air quality and climate change so they can help their patients. They also receive advocacy training enabling them to advocate for strong, clean air policies.
of NC children have been diagnosed with asthma, which is the leading medical cause of absence from school
“These kids can’t breathe. Their cases can be so severe that they require acute care and end up being air-lifted to critical care facilities.”Candace Cahoon
Education and Advocacy
MAHA conducts educational trainings across the state to inform health professionals about the health impacts of air pollution and climate change. The trainings also discuss how health professionals can make a larger impact in their community through advocacy. MAHA conducts ad hoc trainings (e.g. grand rounds, in-services, student classes, etc) as well as regular monthly trainings with Duke Health and Atrium Health’s Pediatric residents. If you are interested in bringing this training to your community, please email [email protected].
Nurses, physicians and pharmacists are 3 of the top 5 most trusted professionals. This gives health professionals a strong and credible voice to help improve the health of their community. MAHA does this by leading and participating in advocacy activities across North Carolina. From submitting public comments to attending public hearings to writing letters to the editor to speaking at press conferences to talking with policy makers to joining boards and commissions, we ensure the health voice is heard. Below are a few recent advocacy actions MAHA has taken.
Joined Letter Opposing America’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement
Joined Letter Supporting the Use of Best Available Science in EPA Policymaking
Public Comments on Division of Air Quality Proposed Methyl Bromide Rule
Joined Letter of Support for National Heat Exposure Standard
Endorsed U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity
MAHA Advisory Board
Consisting of medical and health professionals from across the state, the Advisory Board participates in a quarterly one-hour conference call to discuss current issues and directions for MAHA’s advocacy and education initiatives. We are seeking to diversify our membership with representation from minority health professionals and rural communities. If you or someone you know would like to serve on our Advisory Board, please contact us.
Dr. Keener has been with the Mecklenburg County Health Department for over 17 years, and currently serves as the Department’s Medical Director. Dr. Keener practices in Family Medicine as well as Public Health & General Preventive Medicine, and holds degrees from Davidson College, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Keener serves as an ex-officio member of the Mecklenburg County Medical Society board of directors and has spoken at press conferences and public hearings on a number of air quality issues including ozone pollution, diesel emissions and coal ash waste.
Dr. Price serves as an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Lenoir-Rhyne University. An expert in health promotion and community health, she has devoted her career to reducing health disparities among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. She earned her master’s degree from Columbia University and her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, where her research focused on understanding how social and spiritual connections influence health behaviors. With a passion for health and wellness, she coordinated health education programs at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the New Jersey War-Related Illness and Injury Center. Additionally, she serves on the board of directors for MountainTrue, a Clean Air Carolina partner organization working to preserve the Western North Carolina ecosystem.
Dr. Larry Raymond is Professor of Family Medicine (Ret.) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has served faithfully as a board advisor to Clean Air Carolina for over ten years and has chaired Medical Advocates for Healthy Air since 2007. As chair of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Dr. Raymond has spoken at press conferences and public hearings, written comments to federal and state regulatory agencies, presented programs to physicians at Levine Children’s Hospital, and assumes the co-chair position of Mecklenburg County Medical Society’s Public Health Committee to further raise awareness of the connection between clean air and good health. In June 2014, he was appointed to serve on the NC Environmental Management Committee which oversees all rules related to air and water in our state.
Candace Cahoon is a National Board for Respiratory Care Certified Respiratory Therapist and serves as a Pediatric Asthma Program Coordinator at Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie, North Carolina. In her role, she trains patients and their families to cope with an asthma diagnosis, provides individualized education for patients and their families regarding asthma, and informs patients about the AQI and how it can be utilized to avoid disease triggers. Ms. Cahoon previously served as a Respiratory Care Practitioner at Vidant Chowan Hospital and at Vidant Cardiopulmonary Rehab. In addition to her work, Ms. Cahoon is an active member of the American Association for Respiratory Care, North Carolina Asthma Alliance, and the Association of Asthma Educators.
Lisa Feierstein is President and co-founder of Active Healthcare which is an award-winning industry leader in the care of patients with asthma and diabetes since 1990. Lisa has been serving the medical community for more than 40 years in numerous clinical, educational and outreach roles.
Lisa is passionate about empowering people to become informed participants in their own healthcare and to engage in a wellness lifestyle, which she feels includes the four hallmarks of health: diet, exercise, sleep and spirituality. She has been honored by numerous organizations including National Association of Women Business Owners – Greater Raleigh Chapter, Triangle Business Journal, Business Leader magazine, Enterprising Women magazine, Raleigh Jewish Federation, and her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth School of Nursing.
Dr. Aseem Kaul is a physician currently training at Atrium Health in Family Medicine. Dr. Kaul has called North Carolina home for more than 20 years and received his Bachelors and medical degrees at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. His community involvements include working at free health clinics as well as with the local Habitat for Humanity groups. He is passionate about promoting clean and healthy air while enjoying the outdoors and can often be found hiking the trails of Western North Carolina.
Dr. Greg Kearney is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, where he teaches epidemiology and environmental health. He has worked at local, state and federal levels in environmental health, including the State of Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Environmental Health. He directs the Eastern Carolina Asthma Prevention Program (ECAPP) for the 29 eastern county region. Greg is a member of the National Environmental Health Association and the Duke COPD Task Force. Originally from eastern N.C., Dr. Kearney graduated from The University of South Florida with degrees in urban and regional planning and public health, and received a doctorate in public health with a concentration in environmental health sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is married to Michelle and has two sons, Patrick and Tanner.
Dr. Karen Oles is a clinical pharmacist at the Northwest Community Care Network of Wake Forest Baptist Health. As part of a population-based health care model, she provides chronic disease management and consultation in a General Internal Medicine clinic that serves a largely indigent population. She was previously a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her Masters degree in interdisciplinary epidemiology from Wake Forest University.
Dr. Parr is an emergency physician practicing in Wilmington and has been active since 2008 in the Stop Titan coalition, a community-based organization opposed to the planned Titan Cement manufacturing and strip mine facility on the Cape Fear River. Bob is a passionate voice for clean air and has penned numerous op-eds and letters to the editor in Raleigh and Wilmington newspapers to educate the public and policy makers about the dangerous impact the cement plant will have on air quality. Dr. Parr was a leader in MAHA’s fight to save North Carolina’s air toxics program in 2012, preparing health statistics on affected counties and speaking at our press conference at the legislature. Clean Air Carolina honored Dr. Parr for his educational and advocacy work with an Airkeeper Award in December, 2012.
Working with Communities, Science Communication, and Climate Change are Key Findings in 2019 NC BREATHE Report
by Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky The fifth annual NC BREATHE Conference was held on April 11, 2019 at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina. This year’s conference focused on environmental justice challenges in North Carolina, the birthplace of the...read more
by Calvin Cupini "Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has!" -Margaret Mead Under a rain-soaked water tower and just beyond the old boiler of a munitions factory, prospective...read more
Charged with the responsibility to prevent disease whenever they can, medical and health professionals have an important role to play in protecting their patients from air pollution. Trusted sources of information who see the impact of air pollution and climate change on the health of their patients, the nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, public health educators and other professionals participating in MAHA can make an impact with a unified voice.
MAHA works closely with partners such as medical schools, healthcare organizations, research institutes, government agencies and other environmental and health advocates in order to ensure we are engaging with our members and our policy makers as effectively as possible. Committed healthcare leaders representing diverse professions who serve on MAHA’s Advisory Board help with outreach and engagement strategy. If you are interested in having MAHA partner with your organization, please contact us!
As a MAHA member, you will have access to healthy air trainings, information on research and tools that can help patient care, and convenient opportunities for communicating with policymakers.
It does not have to take much time to be an effective advocate because MAHA helps you fit advocacy into your schedule. Advocacy opportunities range from simply adding one’s name to a sign-on letter, to meeting with a legislator or testifying at a policy making hearing. You can choose the opportunities that are right for you.
Our email communications include a monthly newsletter, invitations to events such as the NC BREATHE Conference, trainings or local meetings, and action alerts when we need your help to promote a clean air policy — or to prevent a policy that will harm our air quality.