Bradley County Health Department Director Eloise Waters and her staff are planning a number of activities and promotions during this year’s National Public Health Week.
This national observance began in 1995 when President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first full week of April as the time for the annual celebration. This year it will be observed Monday through Sunday.
Thousands of public health officials, policy makers and practitioners attempt to educate Americans about the importance of public health. This is what employees of the Bradley County Health Department will try to do this week.
Waters emphasized the mission of the Bradley County Health Department is to protect, promote and improve the health of all residents with a variety of services.
For children, Well Child/Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) provides examinations, immunizations. Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional services, Children’s Special Services care coordination, and Help US Grow Successfully (HUGS) services are available.
EPSDT is a program of check-ups and health-care services for children from birth until the age of 21 to detect and treat health problems.
WIC provides nutrition counseling and vouchers for healthy foods for pregnant women and children under age 5.
Children’s Special Services provides services to eligible children with special health-care needs.
The HUGS program assists pregnant women and postpartum women for up to two years, and infants and children up to age 6 in gaining access to medical, social and educational services.
Information on these services will be published in the Banner this week. These articles will be obtained from Waters and more than 60 employees at the health department.
In addition to helping children get a healthy start, several health department programs benefit adults.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program provides mammograms or Pap tests to women who meet certain conditions, income guidelines and are uninsured or underinsured.
The Family Planning program provides preconception health care visits to prepare for a planned pregnancy.
Breast-feeding education and consultations for women who need assistance with breast-feeding problems are available through the WIC Program.
The Immunization Program also serves adults depending on eligibility.
All age groups benefit from the Communicable and Environmental Disease Services program. CEDS works to discover and stop the spread of communicable diseases and to educate people on how to protect themselves.
The program also conducts surveillance activities in order to discover if a new infection is surfacing, or to identify groups of cases that could be connected. Investigations are conducted to determine the source of disease to prevent outbreaks.
According to Waters and clinic health coordinator Kim Bishop, “Whether it is a meningitis case in an educational setting, a tuberculosis case in a workplace, or a food-borne disease outbreak, public health is always working to detect and stop the spread of communicable disease.”
While CEDS works to stop communicable diseases, General and Environmental Health works to prevent them, said Waters and Bishop. All restaurants, school cafeterias, and even snack booths at outdoor festivals are inspected by public health inspectors for cleanliness, proper food temperature, storage, and other food service issues.
“The health department’s role of prevention continues in the community through facilitation of community health councils,” Waters said. “The Bradley County Health Council determines which health problems are impacting the community and how they can be addressed.
“Upcoming plans of the Bradley County Health Council include a teen conference to help teens make positive decisions,” she added.
Waters said public health protects everyone in the community in some way. “Whether it’s a flu shot, Well Child exam, inspection of your favorite restaurant, or reduced second-hand smoke exposure, we help everyone in the community have better health,” she emphasized.
For additional information on health department services, you can contact the Bradley County Health Department at 728-7020. The Banner will attempt to provide some of this information this week.
The health department is located at 201 Dooley St. off Inman Street in East Cleveland. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.