NCIOM Launches Task Force on the Future of Local Public Health in North Carolina

News | August 16, 2021


Brieanne Lyda-McDonald

919-445-6154 /


Morrisville, NC (August 19, 2021) -- This month, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) will convene the Task Force on the Future of Local Public Health in North Carolina. The goal of this work, supported by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, is to assess our state’s local public health needs, strengths, and challenges, and develop a vision for the future.


The vital role of local public health in supporting North Carolina communities has never been more evident. Yet huge challenges exist in this sector, including per capita funding for public health in North Carolina decreasing by 27% in the past decade; nearly half the US public health workforce planning to retire or quit within the next five years; and a recent national survey of public health workers finding that 53% were experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and/or suicidal ideation.


Through investigating what is currently working and what could be improved, members of this task force aim to identify the most urgent funding, workforce, and other needs in this vital sector of public health. Building a strong base of local public health will help to improve all North Carolinians’ access to opportunities to live healthy lives, and provide a strong foundation for economic development in our communities.


The task force is made up of nearly 60 experts representing local public health, health equity, data, communications, business, health care, philanthropy, and other related fields. This group will meet for 10 months and produce a final report with recommendations to local and state policy makers and stakeholder groups.


Co-chairs for the task force are: Leah Devlin, DDS, MPH, Professor, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Lisa Macon Harrison, MPH, Health Director, Granville Vance Public Health; John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation; and Vicki Lee Parker-High, MBA, Executive Director, North Carolina Business Council.

“To pause and be thoughtful about the future of public health is challenging during the intensity of a pandemic response; and yet, it is also the most critical time to be working on elevating and evolving our practice,” said task force co-chair, Lisa Macon Harrison. “Preventing disease and promoting health across populations is our work. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of our role as well as the changes our system needs so we might get somewhere by design, not just by perseverance.”

This work is happening in conjunction with a special initiative of the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors (NCALHD) to improve the visibility and influence of public health as a critical part of the state’s health care safety net infrastructure. Supported by a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the NCALHD will lead future action planning to implement task force recommendations with local public health departments, and additional partners may carry forward regional and state public health action planning, including policy development for consideration by the NC General Assembly.


The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) is an independent, quasi-state agency that was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1983 to provide balanced, nonpartisan information on issues of relevance to the health of North Carolina’s population. For more information, visit