Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project


The Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project (EHCLP), led by Dr. Maureen Lichtveld of Tulane University, is a $15 million project designed to build social capital and engage vulnerable Gulf Coast communities. These efforts include building environmental health capacity to deliver coordinated specialty care, integrating the role of community health workers as a viable and sustainable component of the health system, and embedding an environmental health science curriculum in public schools and universities across the region to promote environmental health literacy. The EHCLP has established three programs to achieve its goals: the Environmental Health Education and Referral Program, the Community Environmental Health Wellness Program, and the Environmental Health Literacy Program.
Environmental Health Education and Referral Program
EHCLP works with Dr. Katherine Kirkland of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC), a non-profit organization with a national network of specialists in environmental and occupational medicine, to train primary care professionals in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other health care organizations across the Gulf Coast to evaluate patients with environmental health complaints. They will also be able to consult with an environmental health expert, refer patients to an environmental health medical specialist, and educate patients on how to better address their health issues. In addition, AOEC is developing three Case Studies in Environmental Medicine that will offer continuing medical education to health professionals. The CSEM are Benefits and Risks of Seafood Consumption, Reproductive Concerns Related to the Environment in the Gulf Coast, and Risks of Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution on Vulnerable Populations in the Gulf Coast.
Community Environmental Health Wellness Program
The Community Environmental Health Wellness Program has three initiatives that
strengthen Gulf Coast communities coping with disasters, including: 


CHWs provide people with health information, encourage healthy lifestyles and preventative care, and help people in gaining access to needed services. They focus on assisting low-income individuals, minorities, immigrants, and individuals with limited assisting low-income individuals, minorities, immigrants, and individuals with limited assisting low-income individuals, minorities, immigrants, and individuals with limited English language proficiency. Through EHCLP, CHWs have been placed in FQHCs and other non-profit organizations. They identify health needs, including those related to environmental health, and link disaster-affected Gulf Coast communities with health services. 
Through community contact, encouragement, and outreach, Tulane raises awareness and shares information with communities, especially at-risk and/or underserved groups. The Tulane-sponsored Crescent Region Collaborative (CRC) Coalition promotes cooperative problem solving to address environmental and public health issues and concerns. The coalition works with community-based organizations, employers, government, universities, medical providers, and individuals to increase awareness about environmental health. 
TBEARS supports family wellness and community health with home visits or phone support to parents of families with babies 0-12 months that have concerns about their baby’s temperament and behavior. These issues can include concerns that their baby cries a lot, is sad or withdrawn, seems uninterested in interacting with caregivers; as well as concerns that they, as the caregiver, are feeling overwhelmed, tired, sad or isolated. TBEARS also provides referrals to health care and supportive services when needed and hosts parenting groups to promote healthy family relationships. TBEARS is available to all families, but especially to those living in disaster prone communities.
Environmental Health Literacy Program
This program focuses on strengthening environmental health literacy in high schools and universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. EHCLP sponsors two programs in Louisiana, while our GRHOP partners in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida implement their own programs. EHCLP’s programs in Louisiana are as follows: 
Science teachers at public/charter high schools participate in a two-day workshop to expand their knowledge of environmental health and public health. Emphasis is places on hands-on activities and strategies that can be used in an existing environmental science curriculum. Day one of the workshop focuses on lesson demonstrations and best teaching practices related to water, soil, and food quality. Day two is a field experience focused on the role of coastal wetlands in environmental health. 
Emerging Health Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy 
The Academy is a two-month summer program held at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine for promising students from public/charter high schools. With guidance, students complete an environmental health science research project that fully involves them in the scientific process. Students also participate in hands-on activities, field experiences, and seminars to improve their knowledge of environmental health sciences and careers in the field.
For more information about the Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project, visit www.gulfcoastenvironmentalhealth.com or call 504-988-7904.


Significant Accomplishments

The most recent accomplishments of EHCLP include: 

  • As of June 30, 2017, a total of 254 patients had been entered into The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics’ (AOEC) database of clinical environmental and occupational health visits. This includes 26 patients for 2017.


  • Tulane Building Early Relationships Support and Services (TBEARS) served 12 families with a total of 23 home visits, and 25 phone sessions. In addition, the program served 40 families through parent education support groups.


  • The three Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academies at Tulane, University of South Alabama, and University of West Florida enrolled a total of 24 high schools students in June 2017. The academies will run through the end of July.


  • The University of Southern Mississippi implemented two science teacher workshops in the month of June for 15 teachers.
  • In May, EHCLP hosted a one-day grant writing workshop at Tulane University for 33 individuals from 15 of the community health worker (CHW) placement organizations. The workshop covered topics related to grant writing for CHW programs, including identifying grant opportunities, grant proposal structure, preparing a grant proposal, designing and framing a program, building a program budget, and grant submission.