Reid Plimpton MPH'19 is Working With Maine’s Immigrant Communities and Gaining Experience in Community-Based Participatory Methods
Reid Plimpton found the topic of his Applied Practice Experience by first identifying the “public health skills he was interested in adding to his professional toolkit.” At the top of the list was experience in community-based participatory methods, project evaluation, and policy development. After talking with companies and organizations throughout Maine, the Central Maine-based Plimpton found the perfect opportunity working with the public health consulting firm Partnerships For Health (PFH) on the Honor our Bodies, Educate Our Community, Respect our Heritage (HER) initiative. A community-led initiative led by the Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN), HER is aimed at decreasing the risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) for girls living in Maine and decreasing the gaps in clinical services for women who have experienced FGM/C, with particular focus on safe birthing experiences.
More than 200 million women and girls worldwide have experienced FGM/C at one of its four levels of severity. However, there is little to no data indicating how many women and girls arrive in the United States having experienced FGM/C, nor how many girls are taken out of the U.S. to undergo FGM/C in a country where it is still legal, which is commonly referred to as “vacation cutting.”
“Our lack of prevalence data suggests that we are unprepared to meet the community needs,” Plimpton says.
Partnerships For Health developed a community-led evaluation to collect baseline data that could be used to measure the impact of the HER initiative. In addition to collecting data through surveys on community and clinical knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions, the evaluation team facilitated a number of community events and presentations, including World Café-style discussions with female members of the immigrant and refugee community; facilitated discussions with community men; and a community-clinical forum.
“I was reminded throughout these events just how much the success of community-based work is based on shared understanding,” Plimpton says. “PFH has a truly unique relationship with MAIN, the community health workers, and the community surrounding it. It’s one that is based on trust and community benefit and one that prospers from it.”
In recognition of the success community-driven evaluation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged PFH to facilitate community response to its request for public comment on a proposed FGM/C survey being piloted. Ultimately, the community’s input influenced many aspects of the study design.
“To me, once you see or participate in a community-based methods project, you start to wonder why we’re not doing this throughout public health and healthcare improvement,” Plimpton says.
POSTED 2/18/2019 AT 03:35 PM IN #practicum
GET IN TOUCH
To arrange a media interview, please contact: