Community Initiatives

Increasing ties with the CDC Private Well Network

Steve Chillrud, PhD and Stuart Braman, PhD attended the Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH) Program held in conjunction with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) annual conference. Dr. Chillrud gave a presentation titled: Strategies for promotion of private well testing for arsenic using health care system messengers.

Outreach through Hunterdon Healthcare Partners System

  • Outreach to susceptible subgroups. Given our interest in reaching households with pregnancies and small children and since healthcare providers are often trusted communicators of risk messaging, we partnered with Hunterdon Healthcare beginning in 2016 to offer patients with private wells free drinking water tests for arsenic and lead.

    • The kickoff for the effort was a Grand Rounds at Hunterdon Medical Center given by Columbia SRP director Joe Graziano

    • Prior to the Grand Rounds, we updated our NJ Arsenic Awareness website to include information specifically targeted to health care providers, in addition to the information for private well owners

    • Following the grand rounds we began working with Hunterdon’s population health senior director and the chief medical officer to design and implement a series of efforts to raise awareness about the risks of arsenic exposure and to promote private well testing

  • Practice-based outreach. Together with our county health partners, we selected individual practices in areas of high risk in which to focus our initial efforts. We held “mini grand rounds” for the staffs there, provided an FAQ sheet for the providers and posters for their waiting and exam rooms promoting the availability of free tests for patients and began offering free well testing to their patients.

  • Patient portal outreach. A year after launching the practice-based testing, we launched a new campaign to coincide with Earth Day, in which an offer for free arsenic and lead testing was sent to over 10,000 patients through the Hunterdon Healthcare online patient portal. Patients were alerted by email to the existence of a new message in their portal inbox, but had to log in to the site to read the contents. The message included a link to an online request form, and test kits were sent by mail with pre-paid USPS return packages.

  • Multimedia outreach. The portal message also promoted a special Q&A event on arsenic in New Jersey hosted on Hunterdon Healthcare’s Facebook page. Hunterdon Healthcare issued a press release about arsenic and the testing collaboration, and promoted the Facebook event. Columbia used Facebook posts and ads, plus two billboards in high arsenic areas, to promote our existing New Jersey Arsenic Awareness resource website. Test kits were sent by mail with pre-paid USPS return packages.