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Everyone affected by public health

The Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) is celebrating National Public Health Week April 2-6, which highlights the power of prevention, advocacy for healthy and fair policies, and strategies for successful partnerships and championing the role of a strong public health system.

You might ask yourself, “Do I receive services from my local health department?” The answer might surprise you.

 When asking this question, the majority of people say “no,” simply because they never enter the doors of a local health department. However, public health extends beyond the doors to serve everyone in the community.

Public health strives to prevent disease, prolong life and promote health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, communities and individuals.

As a nationally-accredited health department, JCHD has successfully proven it has the capability to operate a multitude of programs and services to influence the health of our community in a positive way.

Childhood and adult immunizations, preventive screenings, adult cancer screenings, family planning services and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) supplemental nutrition programs are some of the many services we provide to promote good health, prevent disease or unplanned pregnancy and provide early detection of cancers.

The health department also monitors and treats communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza and sexually transmitted diseases. We also prevent the transmission of communicable disease such as HIV and Hepatitis C through our Syringe Exchange Program (SEP).

Promotion of tobacco cessation through the 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline, diabetes management classes, as well as nutrition education and counseling are offered as a community resource for better health. Most of these services are provided inside the doors of our facility.

 Outside our doors, parenting instruction in the home through HANDS (Health Access Nurturing Development Services) is available to first-time moms and dads, as well as families with more than one child.

Dental varnishing and sealants are offered in schools through our Public Health Dental Hygiene Program. Abstinence and comprehensive sexuality education classes, tobacco education (to prevent use), bullying prevention classes and personal hygiene education are presented to middle- and high-school students. Breastfeeding instruction and support is available for new moms.

Septic system permitting is available for new homeowners.

In collaboration with community partners, we offer disaster preparedness and respond to nuisance complaints such as dog bites, bats, rodents and sewage run-off.

 The service that impacts most everyone is the inspection of restaurants, food stores, public facilities and swimming pools to ensure these places of business are operating according to regulations and standards thereby safeguarding our community.

JCHD also engages with the community through health forums and workgroups to assess the health status of our community and define a community health improvement plan that will work toward maximizing the health potential of all citizens. Staff from the health department are also heavily involved with the Jessamine County ASAP (Agency for Substance Abuse Policy) Board, Jessamine County Healthy and Safe Communities Coalition and Jessamine County Trails Association.

Although we celebrate public health for one week, your local health department is always working diligently behind the scenes to provide for our community. The next time you walk into a restaurant or food store, remember, the Jessamine County Health Department has worked for you.

Visit our website at www.jessaminehealth.org for a complete listing of the programs and services, or follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for the latest health news.

Randy Gooch is the Director of the Jessamine County Health Department.