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Celebrate public health workers

Published:   |   Updated: April 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM

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Each April, the Florida Department of Health celebrates National Public Health Week and the dedicated professionals that make up our public health work force. In Hernando County, our mission is to protect, promote and improve the health of our residents and visitors.

This is accomplished through strong partnerships with our three community hospitals, 300-plus private medical providers, local governments, law enforcement and emergency response teams, local education boards, media partners, the business community, nonprofit and faith based partners and many generous volunteers.

County health departments throughout the state provide many services that local residents are aware of; services like family planning, childhood immunizations, rabies investigation and prevention, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC). But few are aware of the wide range of services and the broad knowledge base our local health professionals provide.

For example, public health employs physicians, dentists and myriad ancillary medical professionals who provide preventive and restorative services to local residents; manage all county birth and death records; inspect and permit tattoo, piercing establishments and tanning salons; inspect public schools to ensure they are safe for children; identify, monitor and help prevent/control contagious disease outbreaks at the local level; assist local residents and businesses with emergency planning and preparedness efforts; support workplace wellness initiatives; support local education and vocational programs by providing training and internship opportunities; inspect and permit private and commercial septic systems; monitor water quality at public swimming areas; provide childbirth education and breastfeeding classes; provide education and support for high-risk pregnant women and new moms; provide information, testing, support and treatment for many types of sexually transmitted disease; provide chronic disease prevention outreach; and oversee school medical clinics and annual student screenings.

In 2012, the health department staff in Hernando provided 127,542 services to almost 12,000 clients in our community. More than 20,736 birth and death certificates were issued; 4,159 childhood immunizations were administered; 4,769 WIC clients were served; more than 35,424 doses of medication were dispensed to children in 23 different Hernando County Schools; and 17,290 dental services were provided to 2,876 patients, including sealants and fluoride varnish applications in local elementary and middle schools.

We provided 20,994 family planning services to 2,373 clients; 13,432 Healthy Start services for high-risk pregnant women; and provided treatment to 1,097 clients diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.

Additionally, during 2011-12, we ensured the health and safety of our community by performing 2,400 regulatory inspections, sampling and monitoring 150 public water wells and conducting approximately 500 rabies surveillance investigations.

Finally, our department has been recognized by Project Public Health Ready for our preparedness initiatives, which include specific response plans to a variety of natural and man-made emergencies.

Public health programs result in a strong return on investment. It saves lives and saves money.

Robin Wright is the administrator at the Hernando County Health Department.

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