Success Stories

Success Stories

ANEC Success Story: Crystal Bruns, Associate Health Statistician

Success Stories, TEC News

A TEC Internship Success Story!

Crystal Bruns joined the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center (ANEC) in August 2019 as a Biostatistics Intern, where she completed internship duties at both ANEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Arctic Investigations Program. Initially, her internship was scheduled for 3 months, but was soon extended to 6 months due to the skills and enthusiasm she brought to her work. Her willingness to learn anything and everything she could, and her ability to quickly learn and apply new skills led to an offer of a permanent position at ANEC. In February 2020, Crystal officially accepted the position of Associate Health Statistician, making her ANEC’s newest team member!
Q: Why did you apply to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium ANEC Intern position?
A: I knew I wanted a career in statistics and vocalized this with my statistics professor during my last semester at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). My professor was aware of ANEC’s biostatistics internship and highly recommended I pursue it, so I did.

Q: What are the top 3 things you feel you learned or contributed to ANEC and CDC from this internship opportunity?
A: I expanded my knowledge and capabilities with R Programming, advanced my statistical knowledge and abilities, and I created tools for ANEC and CDC to complete future analysis.

Q: Why did you apply to work at ANEC in a full-time capacity?
A: During my internship, I discovered studying health data was fun and interesting. I also found it rewarding to be a part of a team working to improve people’s lives. I looked forward to contributing to ANEC’s goal every day and wanted to keep being a part of that team.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience working at ANEC?
A: This experience has produced a new awareness in understanding data collection, team collaboration, development of health policies and strategies, and more. I also want to share the people that are a part of ANEC’s team made my experience incredible. Thank you for letting me join the team.




NEC Success Story: Changing Winds – Public Health and Indian Country

Success Stories
The Navajo Epidemiology Center (NEC) worked closely with the David J. Sencer CDC Museum on a new exhibit titled “Changing Winds: Public Health and Indian Country.”

Staff at the NEC worked with the museum curator over the past 1.5 years to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the images/information depicting the contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives to public health.

Per Del Yazzie, an epidemiologist at NEC, “Navajo Nation is one of the tribes featured in the exhibits, specifically about the evolution and encapsulation of our Hantavirus work from the 1993 outbreak to currently. To my knowledge, it is the first exhibit of its kind to do so. More than anything else, we believe that the exhibit shows visitors an often-overlooked aspect of public health in the U.S., and of the many tribes and tribal members who have made long-lasting contributions to keeping us healthy.”

Check out this LINK to see more photos from the exhibit.

Contributed by Delores Becenti, Navajo Department of Health with photos courtesy of CDC.

NEC Success Story: Changing Winds – Public Health and Indian Country
NEC Success Story: Changing Winds – Public Health and Indian Country



CTEC Success Story: CRIHB Releases Strategic Plan to Address Tribal Opioid Use

Success Stories
Over the past year, the California Tribal Epidemiology Center (CTEC), housed within the California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc.’s (CRIHB) Research and Public Health Department, has been working on developing a response to the opioid epidemic in California’s Tribal communities.


In December 2019, they released Healing Our California Tribal Communities: A Strategic Plan to Address Tribal Opioid Use.


The 52-page strategic plan presents an overview of the opioid epidemic and the impact on Tribal communities, and it provides a summary of key findings and Tribal community-driven solutions.

“The Strategic Plan to Address Tribal Opioid Use will provide California Tribes, Tribal Health Programs, and Tribal Local Opioid Coalitions with recommendations of community-driven solutions to address opioid use and abuse in their communities,” said Vanesscia Cresci, CRIHB’s Research and Public Health Director.

A team comprised of a CTEC epidemiologist, project coordinator, and program evaluator traveled to Tribal communities throughout Northern, Central, and Southern California to gather community data, distribute the opioid response capacity assessment survey, and conduct key informant interviews and focus groups.

CRIHB’s CEO, Dr. Mark LeBeau said, “I appreciate the hard work and efforts of CRIHB’s Research and Public Health team who developed the Strategic Plan to Address Tribal Opioid Use. CRIHB would like to thank the Tribal Opioid Advisory Committee for their helpful feedback, guidance, and support in creating the strategic plan.”



OKTEC Success Story: Portraits of Good Health and Wellness In Indian Country

Success Stories
Southern Plains Tribal Health Board – Tribal Epidemiology Center (SPTHB-TEC) presents “Portraits of Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country” made possible through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SPTHB-TEC is proud to share the stories and impact of four Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country programs located in the urban area of Tulsa, Oklahoma and rural areas of Pawhuska, Oklahoma and Anadarko, Oklahoma. The community programs highlighted are the running/walking club of the Wichita & Affiliated Tribes (Anadarko), Delaware Nation’s “Native Living” nutrition program (Anadarko), Osage Nation’s “Grow, Gather, Hunt Camp” (Pawhuska), and the “Running Strong” & “Sit Less, Move More, Learn Better” programs from the Indian Health Care Resource Center (Tulsa).


These projects utilize indigenous methods to promote healthy living and activity with positive life-style changes in their communities through policy, systems, and environmental changes.



For more information on how to become involved or to learn more about these projects, please contact Southern Plains Tribal Health Board’s “Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country” program.

Phone: (405) 652-9200



ITCA-TEC Success Story: Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) Workshop

Success Stories, TEC News
On July 18, 2019, the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. Tribal Epidemiology Center (ITCA TEC) partnered with the Cocopah Indian Tribe to conduct a modified Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) workshop. This pilot workshop was the first of its kind for the Cocopah Tribe and the ITCA TEC. The workshop was conducted in a modified form to take into account the relevant aspects of responding to an emergency on the Cocopah Indian Tribe Reservation. The main themes addressed in the workshop were: community orientation and safety information, survey design in Epi Info and Excel, database construction and basic reports in Epi Info and Excel, interviewing techniques and sensitivity, interview and survey completion live practice and data entry, analysis, and report construction live practice.

This workshop provided a forum for the emergency response partners in Yuma County, such as San Luis Walk-In Clinic, Regional Center for Border Health, Cocopah Environmental Protection Office, Cocopah Tribal Health Maintenance program, Cocopah Police Department, Cocopah Office of Emergency Management, Indian Health Service Fort Yuma Service Unit, Yuma County Public Health Services District, Somerton/Cocopah Fire Department, and Arizona Complete Health. During this workshop, the emergency response partners collaborated, and shared experiences and points of view in order to effectively respond to public health emergencies. Using the modified CASPER questionnaire as a framework, various tips in designing a survey questionnaire and interviewing were discussed and shared among the workshop participants.


Eighty seven percent of the workshop participants found the workshop useful to their work responsibilities. Building on the workshop experiences, the emergency response partners are better prepared to collaborate and respond to public health emergencies.



ITCA-TEC-2019-Success-Story-01Figure 1. Cocopah Indian Tribe Office of Emergency Management Manager welcoming the workshop participants.

ITCA-TEC-2019-Success-Story-02Figure 2. An example of inventorying available resources and descriptions from emergency response partners related to a public health emergency in Yuma County.

ITCA-TEC-2019-Success-Story-03Figure 3. Workshop participants discussing necessary data collection and interviewing techniques and sensitivity within a public health emergency response setting.