As I worked with South Heartland District Health Department these past few weeks administering H1N1 vaccine at school and public clinics, I began to wonder how many people are really aware of what a gem we have in our midst. The Health Department fills so many health needs for people of all ages, and much of their work is behind the scenes and largely goes unrecognized. South Heartland District Health Department employs a small group of professionals, ably led by Executive Director Michele Bever, PhD.
During the public clinic to administer the vaccine, many people remarked on the excellent organization of the clinic. Most who came for the vaccines commented that their wait was less than 10 minutes. All that organization was done by the Health Department, and was an example of the kinds of excellent work they do.
The Health Department, located at 606 N. Minnesota in Hastings, serves 4 counties: Adams, Clay, Webster, and Nuckolls. By checking their website, www.southheartlandhealth.org, you can see a thumbnail sketch of the ways they enhance health in south central Nebraska. You can also click on a link to a personal health risk assessment, which would be a great beginning to a healthy new year. Or you can download a printable guide to a personal disaster supplies kit for use during emergencies, and a printable wallet emergency card.
Many citizens were involved in developing a 5-year Public Health Improvement Plan to help guide the activities of the Health Department. The Plan is full of good information and available for all to see on the website.
One of the important roles of the Health Department is disease control, prevention and surveillance. Through collaboration with area schools and physicians’ offices, the Health Department can be alert to disease outbreaks, and can work with the public to reduce the scope of such outbreaks. They are involved in West Nile and H1N1 disease surveillance, as well as surveillance for MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and pandemic influenza. South Heartland also assists with environmental health by offering information about lead testing, radon, water safety, and more.
The Health Department offers a speakers bureau on a large range of public health topics, including rabies, lead poisoning, pandemic planning, children’s health, and more, all listed on the website.
The Health Department also offers a P.H.O.N.E. nurse (Public Health Outreach Nursing Education), who, among other duties, assists families to identify and overcome barriers to health care.
If you are looking for current immunization information, including immunizations needed for travel, South Heartland District Health Department is an excellent resource.
You have probably seen news articles in the Hastings Tribune written by South Heartland professionals. These articles are always full of helpful and timely information that the public needs.
There will be a ribbon cutting and open house for their new location at 606 N Minnesota on January 13, from 2 PM-5 PM. We are fortunate to have such a valuable Health Department in our midst. We all need to be more aware of this resource and make the best use of all they have to offer.
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