Of course, NPHW is not so much about giving ourselves a pat on the back as much as highlighting the work done by Monongalia County Health Department and all the other public health organizations in the United States.
That’s pretty easy, because it’s fairly simple to look around and discover ways in which public health has improved the lives of not only Americans, but also people all over the world.
For instance, no case of polio has originated in the U.S. since 1979. In the 1950s, people who got the disease sometimes experienced paralysis or had to use a cumbersome and life-limiting iron lung to help them breathe. But the polio vaccine has practically eradicated the disease around the world and dramatically reduced the numbers of cases in the places where it still exists.
That’s just one example of how vaccines have saved lives. There are so many diseases that have been eliminated, such as smallpox, or greatly reduced, such as measles, pertussis and diphtheria, because of vaccines.
And then there is the public water system, which provides treated water at a low cost to most places in the nation. What’s more, it even contains fluoride, which helps protect teeth against cavities.
Enacted nearly 45 years ago, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for drinking water quality and oversee all states and water suppliers. Fluoride was first added to an American water system in 1945 in test city Grand Rapids, Michigan, after the National Institutes of Health published several studies suggesting that it would help fight tooth decay.
Those are just a few examples on the importance of public health, which has been bestowed with the duties of preventing illness, protecting the public and promoting this vital information to people.
Monongalia County Health Department has five programs to accomplish this mission:
• Environmental Health, which protects the public in many ways, including through inspections of restaurants, pools, hotels and motels, tattoo studios, farmers markets, food trucks and more.
• Clinical Services, which provides immunizations for infants, children, teens, adults and travelers—i.e., everybody—as well as free and low-cost birth control, free sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and breast and cervical exams for women.
• Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, aka WIC, which provides breastfeeding support to new mothers as well as nutritional education and supplements to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children up to age 5.
• MCHD Dentistry, a full-service dental office where visits can be covered by private insurance, CHIP, Medicaid, a sliding-fee discount, CareCredit financing, and, of course, cash, check or credit card.
• Threat Preparedness, which holds drills, conducts classes for first responders and helps keep the community safe during crises caused by everything from bad weather to bad people. Next week, for instance, the founder of the I Love You Guys Foundation, whose daughter was killed in a school shooting, will be leading a class on how to facilitate family reunification after events like those take place.
MCHD even has a regional epidemiologist on staff to help track diseases such as influenza, hepatitis B and C, food-borne illnesses and more.
We also utilize a website, monchd.org, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and, coming soon, an Instagram page, to get our message out, in addition to this weekly blog and periodic press releases that are sent out to the media.
So, to paraphrase the immortal Jerry Maguire—the lead character in an eponymous film that was nominated for some Academy Awards, by the way—help us help you. Follow us on social media, check out all the information available on our website so you don’t miss important news that can impact your health. We’re here to serve.