Cathalene Teahan, MSN, CSN, RN, received the GPHA President’s Special Recognition Award at the 2022 GPHA Annual Meeting and Conference.
Over the last 30 years, Teahan has worked quietly behind the scenes influencing, advocating, and championing public health causes that ensured many Georgians receive services through our public health system. Since the 1990s, Teahan has been on the front lines working with public health on issues related to vaccines, HIV, congenital syphilis, hepatitis, and access to treatment for hepatitis C.
In the late 1990s, she worked with the Division of Public Health Director and the former HIV Commissioner from New York City who wrote the first proposal for an HIV waiver, to provide expanded care for individuals with HIV under Medicaid. While that bill wasn’t successful at the time, her behind-the-scenes work on the FY 2023 budget will finally lead to expanded Medicaid coverage for individuals with HIV. She was successful in getting legislation passed that addressed issues related to both congenital syphilis as well as perinatal transmission of HIV, by ensuring testing during pregnancy and deliver was required. In addition, Teahan has worked on issues related to HIV and incarcerated individuals in trying to expand access to testing and treatment along with modernizing our antiquated HIV laws.
Most recently, she has actively worked behind the scenes campaigning for DPH legislative proposals such as updating the nearly 30-year-old lead poisoning prevention law and smoke free air act. These bills will ensure more children are protected against the dangers of lead poisoning and that all people are protected from the unknowns of second-hand vaping exposure. Lastly, Teahan is a strong advocate of ensuring the public health system is adequately funded. She has been actively working behind the scenes educating legislatures on the funding challenges in public health and encouraging them to add additional funding to public health’s budget. Due to her advocacy, public health stands to receive the largest funding increase in the history of the agency.
Teahan is the founder and executive director for the Georgia AIDS Coalition. She is a noted expert on state budgeting, health care, and patient advocacy. Teahan graduated from the University of Hawaii with a master’s degree as a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric nursing.