April 4-10, 2022 is National Public Health Week.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who work at the Iredell County Health Department. In Iredell County, your health department offers dental, child health, maternal health, immunization, testing and counseling for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and family planning. Care management services are offered to women with high-risk pregnancies. Support for at-risk populations is also offered to children from birth to 5 years old.
Our Women, Infants and Children program offers nutritional advice, breastfeeding support and free purchases of healthy foods for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from birth to 5 years old. Our residents can also take advantage of our low cost walk-in lab services. This program is particularly advantageous for people who do not have health insurance or who have a high deductible.
We have public health emergency response plans that are exercised regularly. North Carolina has more than 80 reportable communicable diseases. Each disease has specific control measures that we are required by law to follow. From tuberculosis to hemorrhagic fever (Ebola), public health works to slow the spread of disease in our department.
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In addition, Iredell County births and deaths are reported to the Department of Health by hospitals, medical examiners, medical providers, funeral homes, and hospices. Our Assistant Registrar reviews these documents for accuracy before they are filed in the Deeds Registry Office.
Our environmental health program ensures the safety of public facilities which include child care facilities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, public swimming pools, tattoo parlors, residential migrants and camps. We inspect and license public catering establishments, caterers, mobile food units and concessions. When children have high blood lead levels, we help NCDHHS identify the source of lead and the owner develop a remediation plan. When a clandestine meth lab is identified by the SBI or local law enforcement, we work with the owner to ensure no humans occupy the property without the proper cleanup and our approval. Complaints related to mosquito control are also addressed through home visits and education.
We work with partners to respond to public health issues that impact the health of our community through the Community Health Assessment process. We coordinate the Safe Kids Iredell Coalition, the Healthy Iredell Coalition, the Iredell County Community Equity Council, the Iredell County Healthcare Preparedness Coalition and the Iredell County Child Fatality Task Force. We also share important public health updates through social media, print, radio and community presentations.
Every health department in NC is required by general statute to pass a public health accreditation audit and on-site survey every four years. The accreditation process includes compliance with 41 benchmarks, over 150 activities and over 200 evidence requirements. After a comprehensive orientation, we must maintain the licensure, training and competence of our staff. No gaps were identified during our last public health accreditation survey in October 2018.
Our administrative staff manages appointments, registration, eligibility, billing, income and expenses. We follow all Iredell County tax audit policies and procedures. In a county of over 180,000 people, our public health work is accomplished with only 110 full-time positions. During National Public Health Week, it is certainly appropriate to recognize the staff of the Iredell County Health Department for their dedication to serving others. It is my privilege to be part of this extraordinary team!
Jane Hinson is Iredell County’s Chief Health Officer.