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December 2019 Monthly Newsletter

Message from the President - Molly Crawford

One of the reasons I truly enjoy my job as a State Registrar is because of the important responsibility we have to record lives—to document the beginnings and the endings of lives lived. It’s our job to gather the details and make a record. It’s our responsibility to get it right—for public health purposes and for the families who rely on the legal certificates. We mark the lives, but there’s so much more. Maybe I’m unusual. I often read the obituaries to read about those people in our records. I look at the photos and the words that describe accomplishments, the love of family and friends, the life that existed between birth registration and death registration. I also enjoy reading books that relate to our work. 

This time of year, at least in Minnesota, it’s sometimes nice to slow the pace, grab a book, and escape to another place reading by a cozy fire. If you are fascinated and entertained by stories that relate to vital records, you might be interested in the following books:

Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, by Mo Rocca. Rocca is a CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and humorist who entertains readers with his rigorously researched book that celebrates the dead people who have long fascinated him.

Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial, by Mark Harris. The book educates about green burials and reminds readers of what funerals are really for.

Blood on the Leaves, Real Hunting Accident Investigations―And Lessons in Hunter Safety, by Rod Slings from Iowa, Keith Byers from Georgia and Michael Van Durme from New York, all from Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants, LLC who are former conservation officers and law investigators. They share stories including hunting accidents that were staged homicides. According to Amazon, “A must-read for hunters and anyone fascinated by forensics.”

Recommended from Jeff Duncan, Michigan State Registrar: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. The author is a young lady who was a crematory operator in Oakland, CA, and now is in the alternative funeral industry.  She has a lot of great insight and anecdotes about the funeral industry, and there are a few cameo mentions of the death certificate in the book.   

And, of course, there’s always those books on top baby names…

Enjoy your winter reading. Happy New Year.

Executive Director Report - Shawna Webster

If you haven’t already seen or heard, the omnibus text was just released and $50 million has been allocated for public health data modernization! We are excited to see the improvements that will be made to public health data systems at CDC and state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments. This is a direct result of our work with APHL, CSTE, and HIMSS on the Data: Elemental to Health campaign. The introduction of four authorizing bills and the successful inclusion of appropriations in the omnibus have been huge wins for public health! We will continue to watch the rest of the appropriations process, but we expect things to be finalized later this week ahead of the December 20th deadline. And finally, we would be remiss if we did not give a shout out to our advocacy partners CRD Associates and especially Emily Holubowich—who even in her new role with the American Heart Association—has been closely following the appropriations cycle with us to champion the campaign right up until today. Thank you, Emily for all your hard work and effort to drive this campaign! 

Last week NAPHSIS held its second Systems & Interoperability Workshop in Phoenix, Arizona. This bi-coastal education and training offering allowed our members, vendors and partners to exchange best practices, interesting new use cases and help us brainstorm about the next generation of systems for NAPHSIS and its membership. This workshop allowed us to really showcase APHL’s AIMS platform – on which the STEVE system is hosted. You can learn more about the work APHL is doing in informatics and systems for public health data exchange in this month’s issue of Lab Matters, APHL’s quarterly magazine. We’ll be sure to find ways to keep the momentum going in this area in 2020! 

NAPHSIS also welcomed its new Communications & Marketing Manager last week! Katey Frederking is from the Chicagoland area. She received her Bachelor’s in Communication from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin and her Masters in Global Communication from the American University of Paris. Prior to joining NAPHSIS, Katey spent most of her career working for other mission-driven organizations. We’re so excited to have her on our team! Welcome Katey! 

From all of us at NAPHSIS, happy holidays and a joyous new year! We’ll see you in 2020! 

Upcoming Webinars

NAPHSIS invites you to the upcoming VSCP Project Directors Webinar:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 @ 2:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time 

January VSCP Project Directors Webinar Topics:

Update on life tables and life expectancy estimates NAPHSIS meeting/training schedule for 2020

You may register HERE. If you have any questions, please contact Shae Sutton.

 As a reminder, VSCP Project Director Webinars are held every 2nd Wednesday at 2pm Eastern

Quality Assurance Study On December 10th, a survey was sent out to all NAPHSIS members in order to obtain more detailed information about various aspects of vital records/health statistics quality assurance for an ongoing project. Your completion of the survey is indispensable! If you didn’t receive the email, please be sure to check your spam folder or click here to complete the survey. 

New Resources Available The Division of Reproductive Health at the CDC recently provided an updated guideline document for ITOP, which you can find on the Members Only site. The goal of this document is to help improve the quality of the data collected by increasing uniformity within and among jurisdictions. 

The Mortality Data Quality Workgroup released their report on specific measures of mortality data quality. Please check it out by clicking this link.


The Systems & Interoperability Workshop in Phoenix is officially in the books. We had over 75 people in attendance who were able to learn and share with one another the successes and challenges of technology in the vital records world. Kevin Tammearu from Cybernetica joined us again to talk about Estonia's completely digital government service offerings. Additionally, we were able to hear about the future of interoperability with electronic case reporting from APHL. Presentations from this conference are available on the Members Only site.   

A big thank you to our Phoenix sponsors: Axiell, LexisNexis VitalChek, Quantum Mark, and RUVOS.

Special Interest Groups

NAPHSIS is hosting special interest groups for jurisdictional members to share and learn from one another on the topics below. Please contact Caprice Edwards, to join any of these groups or learn more about them.

- STEVE User Group for Best Practices

- Next Generation Systems

- Data Quality Assurance

NAPHSIS Membership Dues

Many thanks to those jurisdictions that have already submitted their 2020 dues! These payments are being put to work through the many NAPHSIS products and services supporting your offices. For those jurisdictions that have NOT yet paid their dues, please contact NAPHSIS headquarters to let us know your payment status. As a reminder, jurisdictions that have NOT paid their dues will be precluded from fully-participating in upcoming training and meetings.

Each jurisdiction receives five agency memberships with payment of their dues. Jurisdictions that have paid their dues can review their list of current members on the Members Contact list. Updates to account for any changes or additions to your office can be sent by email. As a reminder, additional staff can be added to your membership for a per person fee of $50, and you can request an invoice that reflects these additional memberships by contacting Stephanie N'garsanet.

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