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Public health workers juggle a lot of duties
Health advice
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Public health (aka County Health Departments) has occasionally gotten flack for the length of time a person has to wait to get served, but recently a Courier Sound off noted public health staff were performing janitor services instead of devoting all their time to healthcare.  The caller went on to say that this was harming patient care.
While emptying trash, vacuuming or mopping haven’t been fantastic additions to the job descriptions of departments workers, it has been necessary. We’d get a lot more flack if we didn’t keep our work spaces clean and clutter-free for patients.
Those of us in public health pretty much stay frustrated because state funds keep getting cut. We now have half the staff that we had five years ago, thousands of dollars less to buy supplies or fund programs. Yet we have thousands more people to provide services to in outdated facilities.
Many people don’t realize that their county public health departments serve critical roles in natural or man-made disasters. Health department staffs are first responders, staff and provide first aid at shelters and open points of distribution where local residents would receive vaccines, antibiotics or other medication should an epidemic, pandemic, terrorist attack or natural disaster occur.
Our environmental health staff would also be first responder activities in addition to duties that put them in the middle of recovery, assessment and ensuring environmental and resident safety for workers and returning home owners.
If our region is the only one hit by a disaster then we can expect public health workers from other areas to join us in implementing action plans. But if they are also involved in the disaster, then we are on our own and the ability to function well will not be because public health workers don’t know how or what to do, it will be because there is not way to meet the needs of this whole county.
Public health workers are state employees, which means there are no Christmas bonuses, turkeys or hams and most of the staff get paid less than workers with their same job title in a non-governmental office. Every worker stays on call 24-hours a day should to respond to emergencies.
Unfortunately clients don’t always understand why they have to wait because they don’t see the behind the scenes PH staff struggling to cover all the bases to see patients, provide exams, record vital signs, procure medications and seek appointments for the next visit. If one staff member is out for a day, duties are doubled for staff who are there.
•    Public Health Week is April 6-12 and the theme this year is “Building the Foundation for a Healthy America.” Please join us in supporting your public health department and work to improve healthcare for your county on every level. Residents in the United States — and Liberty County — are not as healthy as they should be and we must improve the health of our population and assist the nearly 13 percent of Americans who live in poverty. Over half of the 2 million deaths in the United States each year could be prevented. And even though we have improved our life expectancy to 78.1 years, the U.S. still ranks 46th among the world’s industrialized nations, behind Japan and most of Europe, as well as countries such as Guam, South Korea and Jordan.
Get more information about National Public Health Week at
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