The need for and access to resources for public health care is greater than ever before. Carrie Butler is on the front line of this issue as Executive Director of the Utah Public Health Association– the largest public health association in Utah. UPHA works with public health professionals, health educators, doctors, nurses, community leaders, and citizens to help tackle the growing healthcare need for Utahns. We sat down with Carrie to learn more about UPHA, pressing issues in public health today, and her favorite team member at The Shop.
Can you describe the work you do for the Utah Public Health Association?
UPHA is an organization that provides support for public health professionals across the state, with a focus on policy and advocacy, professional development, and networking for our members. I am the Executive Director and as anyone who has ever worked in a nonprofit knows, as an ED, I wear a lot of hats. My favorite thing I do with UPHA is collaborating with other organizations to work on policies that will improve health and reduce costs to our communities.
What do you believe are the most pressing issues the United States Public Health System is dealing with?
Currently, I believe the most pressing issues facing the United States Public Health System are the general lack of trust in public health and the inadequate funding and regulatory authority for public health initiatives. While there were numerous mistakes made during the COVID-19 pandemic that we need to learn from and address, it is essential that public health organizations have the resources and support necessary to make informed decisions that promote the well-being of communities.
The current state of preventable issues in our cities is also concerning. For example, the ongoing water crisis in Flint and other cities in the South highlights how a basic service such as providing clean water can become politicized and underfunded, resulting in severe harm to families and communities. When public health is unable to function effectively due to inadequate funding or a lack of agreement on what should be considered a public commodity, we all suffer. Therefore, it is crucial that we prioritize funding and support for public health initiatives to ensure that our communities are healthy, safe, and resilient.
What is Utah doing to overcome those same issues?
There are a lot of really smart people working in public health and trying to navigate a tricky political climate to carve out a space where we can discuss evidence-based practices for public health and public safety. I am grateful for the leadership they are providing. I have seen a lot of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking in the face of adversarial legislation striking the capability of experts to measure and respond in public health emergencies. There is still a lot of work to do, education to provide to our elected officials.
Can you share a specific example of a campaign or project you’ve worked on that you are particularly proud of and why?
This past legislative session was a tough one from the perspective of LGBTQ health, women’s health, and other areas. A highlight, however, came from some hard work we got to do with other really fun, really smart, really passionate collaborators to pass legislation to expand health coverage to postpartum women using Medicaid. This will help us tackle the very real disparities in post partum care in Utah and extends coverage for 12 months for over 10,000 women who otherwise wouldn’t have access. It was a lot of hard work but we know it will help our communities.
What is your favorite part about working at The Shop?
Mike Brewer- the staff at The Shop has been incredible to work with.
How has working at The Shop benefited your overall workflow?
I have loved the opportunities to connect at the water cooler so to speak, with other amazing people working on making our state better through nonprofit work, innovation, etc.
Do you have a favorite place or best-kept secret of Salt Lake City / Utah?
Del Barrio Cafe. Best birria tacos in the entire valley.