The coordinator of public health initiatives for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System feels the future of public health is prevention.

by Andrea Maneri

“Working in community and public health has given me the opportunity to learn about things I never would have dreamed of becoming involved in.”—Lori Ginsberg ’76

According to Lori Ginsberg ’76, the future of public health is prevention.

As the coordinator of public health initiatives for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Ginsberg is committed to helping prevent the onset and progression of health conditions of residents, particularly underserved populations, throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

One of the community initiatives she spearheaded is Stepping On, a fall- and iniury-prevention program offered to independent living adults who are 60 years and older. “Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits and home injuries,” she said. A certified master trainer, Ginsberg educates and trains health professionals who will deliver these programs in different community settngs, in addition to leading workshops herself.

Another issue older adults face is a fear of falling. “Fear of falling starts a vicious cycle. Those people tend to stop going out,” she said. “As a result, they are not as active and become more isolated and sedentary. Muscles start to atrophy, everything starts to deteriorate.”

Through Stepping On, Ginsberg and her team teach balance and strength exercises and how to do them properly. They also bring in experts to discuss important topics—everything from how to step off curbs in the community to how to use a cane; from home safety tips to the role vision plays in helping one maintain balance to how taking certain medications in the evening can contribute to falls.

Since the initiative was established in 2012, 20 Stepping On programs have been delivered; several are in session right now. The knowledge and safety practices the participants gain are proving helpful in reducing falls and building confidence. “We have participants complete a knowledge and behavior test prior to starting the program, at the end of the program and three months later, to see if the benefits are sustained over time,” she said. “The positive fall-reducing behavior changes they made were statistically significant.”

Next on the Office of Community and Public Heath’s prevention agenda is Living Healthy, a Chronic Disease-Self Management program, for which Ginsberg is also certified a master trainer. This initiative aims to help people with different chronic health problems—such as diabetes, obesity or heart disease—master new skills to take charge and improve their health.

“This program will cover content that evidence shows will be most useful to participants, including problem solving, action planning, brainstorming solutions and putting them into action, as well as what to do if the solution doesn’t work,” she said.

Ultimately, the goal is for Living Healthy to be peer-led. “We will teach people in the community,” she said. “And they will go out and teach what they learn to other people.”

Ginsberg would never have predicted she would be working in community health, or even with adults, when she was a student at Adelphi. “I always knew I wanted pediatrics, and I came to Adelphi because its nursing program had an incredible reputation.” After graduating from the University with honors, she went on to earn a master’s degree master’s degree at New York University, become a clinical specialist and dedicate more than 20 years of her career to pediatrics. It wasn’t until 2002 that she got her first introduction to working with underserved populations as a coordinator of North Shore’s Breast Initiative. That eventually led to her current role in North Shore-LIJ’s Office of Community and Public Health.

She loves what she does. “Working in community and public health has given me the opportunity to learn about things I never would have dreamed of becoming involved in,” she said. “It has been so gratifying to work with older adults and diverse populations. Nursing is an amazing profession that allows you to go where your heart leads.”

Ginsberg, who credits Adelphi with enabling her to take her career in whatever direction she chose, has this perspective to share with current students: “Adelphi is a great foundation. Years from now, you are going to realize you graduated from a University that you will be so proud of and a program that has prepared you to do anything you can imagine.”

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