We asked Onesky Aupont a few questions about himself and his role at ICH. Read on to learn more!
1. How would you describe your role at ICH?
At ICH, I am a Senior Research and Evaluation Scientist supporting the development and testing of analytical models, evaluation approaches in public health practice, and applied research for quality improvement in systems of care. I am also engaged in the development of community participatory research for improving equity and community health. In short, I see my role at ICH as furthering the institute’s mission to improve community health and wellbeing.
2. What is your educational background?
I am a public health physician with advanced training in Health Services Research and policy. I am a Fulbright scholar who attended medical school in Haiti with additional training in community medicine and maternal child health in France. In the late nineties, I completed advanced training in public health, social policy, and health services research policy at Boston University and Brandeis University.
3. What was your career path before coming to ICH and can you tell us about your prior research?
My career path before ICH entailed engagement in innovation science, translational research, and implementation of quality improvement programs in fast-paced clinical settings including academic medical centers, multi-practice medical systems, and primary care practices, and community health.
I held faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts where I was involved in a variety of federal and foundation funded health services research and evaluation studies involving vulnerable populations and health service delivery innovation. My work focused on the implementation of system interventions, quality improvement programs, community-based initiatives, and policies to facilitate the integration of behavioral health care into medical management of patients in primary care settings, and the development of infrastructure for clinical research.
I also had a track record of leading applied research, quality improvement initiatives for population health particularly in Massachusetts. Beginning with my work at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and continuing into my tenure at UMass Medical School (UMMS), I have collaborated on research initiatives and interventions for improving health services in primary care and community settings. These projects were contextualized as programs that included operational research, clinical management, medical community engagement, IT system innovation, patient outreach, and periodic adjustments of program objectives and components to improve service quality and community health.
Very relevant however to the work of ICH and that of many other departments at CHA including Office for Community Health Improvement was the aspect of my work that entailed of advocacy, promoting collaboration, community participatory research and intervention for public health. In the mid 1990s, I started my career as a Community Prevention Specialist working for Mount Auburn Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) coordinating the CH immunization program. As a prevention specialist, I worked with the Prevention Centers (MPCs) on the Community Health Network Area initiative (CHNA) to empower communities to take local leadership in the public health planning process. From working in immunization and child health, I ended up joining UNICEF and WHO in the mid 90s as a health advisor where I got deeper involved in community medicine and public health programing in developing countries. From there, my career evolved into advanced training in health services research and community health.
4. What made you decide to come to ICH?
As a social scientist and public health researcher, when I read about ICH, I believed my interdisciplinary background, experience, and organizational skills in entrepreneurial development and research could be helpful at ICH. As I learned more about ICH, what fascinated me was the direct impact its work has on improving community health and wellbeing. The vision and core values of ICH came across as a vehicle through which I could apply 20 years of applied community health and translational research I had acquired in academia to advancing Community Health at a broader level. I would say that I am very keen about the mission of the Leah Zallman Center for immigrant health research which further explains my decision to come to ICH.
5. What are some projects that you are working on right now?
Currently, I am working on 4 different projects at ICH, including two evaluation projects and two research initiatives. The evaluations focus on teen pregnancy prevention initiatives and programming for services for substance use disorders in Massachusetts. Current involvement in research includes one study documenting the ethical challenges in services delivery at community health centers and another analyzing the impact of the pandemic of immigrant health in Massachusetts.
6. What are your favorite projects topics and why?
This may sound cliché, but my favorite topic is “EQUITY” as it refers to using approaches, technics, concepts, and frameworks in our work to ensure the optimal conditions and outcomes in whatever work we undertake.
Analyzing and improving health care delivery and community health is a daunting and multi-faceted undertaking. As we look deeper into community health and the need to address so many determinants to improve the status quo, attention to equity is needed to achieve fairness and optimal outcomes for special populations and transparency in community health.
7. What are you most excited about for the future of ICH?
I brought 20 years of experience in applied / translation research with me at ICH. Mainly from the bench lab to bedside. I hope to contribute to changing the narrative about how we plan and organize care for communities. I am excited about the likelihood of using translational sciences to inform primary care service delivery and community health at ICH and CHA.
8. What are your hobbies or things you like to do for fun?
I love to dance and do gymnastics though it is becoming more and more challenging as I get older. I have done ballroom dancing for 17 years and even tutored at Fred Astaire at some point while going to graduate school. Years ago, I could dance 24 x 7. Now, not so more. I do have a passion for cooking that I enjoy very much; granted that I advise my guests to bring along their antacid when they come to diner.
9. Do you have any plans for the new year?
My main goal for the new year is to start a research portfolio at ICH on Community-informed Care. We’ll see how it goes.