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Public Health’s Role in Improving Healthy Built Environments

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With substantial research demonstrating the connection between the environment and public health outcomes, it is imperative that we identify and pursue opportunities within our communities that promote health, address disparities, and improve well-being. While many of these factors—transportation, land use planning, housing, parks, and economic development—are outside the public health field’s direct control, the Tennessee Department of Health has still established itself as a national leader in improving public health, safety, and welfare through investments in its built environment. In this presentation, you’ll gain an overview of the Tennessee Department of Health’s successes—led by the Office of Primary Prevention— including the significance of regional healthy development coordinators, the Healthy Built Environments Grant program, and cross-agency, multi-disciplinary partnerships. Hosted by the Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH).

This session was recorded live on May 14, 2024.

Course expires 4/1/2027

Learning Objectives


Recognize how a public health department can engage in built environment work.


Identify potential funding streams and strategies to support the built environment and public health initiatives.


Describe how health equity can be operationalized in the built environment and public health through safety initiatives.


Understand types of potential partners for addressing the social and environmental factors that influence health.

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John Kreidich, now retired, from 2000-2018, the go-to resource for hospital‐related safety, infection control, sustainable building, and medical equipment procurement matters at McCarthy’s Central Division, was Vice President, System, Facilities Planning and Construction for Penn State Geisinger 1997 ‐ 2000, following four years as Assistant Vice President, Facilities Management at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

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John serves as the Director of the Office of Primary Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Health, an innovative group working to shape the social and environmental factors that influence the health of communities, including land use planning, transportation, housing, greenspace, and economic development. He brings an interdisciplinary perspective to public health, with a background in applied research, chronic disease epidemiology, urban planning, and community development. John currently serves as John holds a Ph.D. in Applied Community Research from Vanderbilt University, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow in Equity and Urban Development, and an Urban Land Institute Health Leaders Fellow.