National Public Health Week — April 4-10 — is a great time to remind the community of the roles and responsibilities of the local health department. Just as your health care provider focuses on your health, your local health department focuses on the health of your community.
Public health workers tend to keep a low profile. You might not even know we were here until something went wrong – an outbreak of hepatitis or the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.
We spend most of our time quietly working with like-minded partners on initiatives to prevent illness and injury in our communities. Finger Lakes Region health departments regularly collaborate on issues such as high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, and oral health. We even achieved national accreditation in 2020, a challenging process that will help us serve our communities even better than ever.
The national public health logo’s slogan – Prevent, Promote and Protect – encapsulates what local health departments do. We prevent disease by investigating outbreaks and ensuring access to vaccines. We promote wellness by educating the community about health and safety. We protect the community by planning for man-made or natural disasters. Because our focus is prevention, sometimes it’s hard to see results. How do you count the number of babies who haven’t had whooping cough or the number of adults who haven’t had a heart attack?
Like other New York State Health Departments, Finger Lakes Local Health Departments, including Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, and Yates counties, provide communicable disease investigation services , rabies control, smoking cessation and prevention, lead poisoning prevention in children, emergency preparedness, chronic disease education and childhood vaccinations. Families in Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties benefit from maternal and child health services and programs designed for children with developmental delays. Health education is integrated into all program offerings.
During National Public Health Week, be sure to search for your local health department on Facebook or the web.