POMEROY — The Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) observed National Public Health Week (NPHW) by recognizing all its 17 employees and Board of Health (BOH) members for their dedication and hard work during a catered luncheon on April 5.
Those specifically honored for service milestones (5, 10, 15 or more years of service to the department) are as follows:
- Former BOH Member Gene Jeffers, who served multiple consecutive terms from 1979-2017.
- Former BOH Medical Member James Witherell, who served the Health Department and BOH in various capacities from 1979-2017.
- Current Employees Courtney Midkiff 18 years; Leanne Cunningham 14 years; Sherry Hayman and Frank Gorscak 13 years; Steve Swatzel 10 years; Sherry Eagle 8 years; Juli Simpson 5 years.
Jeffers and Witherell were presented with commemorative plaques and specially recognized employees were honored with lapel pins.
National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 3-9, is organized annually by the American Public Health Association (APHA), presents an opportunity for communities across the United States to reflect on the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. More importantly, NPHW serves as an excellent reminder of why public health exists: to tackle the underlying causes of poor health and disease risk – which are rooted in where we live, learn, work, and play — and ensure that everyone in our nation has a chance at a long and healthy life.
While federal and state public health agencies are a critical part of the fabric that makes up the nation’s public health infrastructure, the work being done locally is invaluable. Embedded at the community level, local health departments (LHDs) are a trusted and steady provider of information, making them well-positioned to address public health concerns. Their familiarity with community attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors enables LHDs to connect individuals to the services, resources, and care they need.
What is Public Health? Per the CDC Foundation, Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases.Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research – in contrast to clinical professionals like doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. Public health also works to limit health disparities. A large part of public health is promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility.
Residents benefit from public health from birth through death. In addition to those using clinical services such as but not limited to immunizations and those who need birth or death certificates, the MCHD protects all County residents with restaurant and food service inspections; septic and sewage system inspections, home sewage system design and evaluation, mosquito control; rabies investigation and public nuisance investigations. Scrap tire collection efforts have accounted for thousands of old and discarded tires to be collected and properly disposed of. Staff at the MCHD work hard at obtaining and maintaining grants from Federal, State and private sources which allow programs such as WIC, Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Creating Healthy Communities/Together on Diabetes, Child and Family Health Services to benefit County residents. Emergency response; educational programs directed at disease prevention strategies and those living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes; making healthy lifestyle choices; infant mortality and childhood obesity prevention are offered.
The MCHD seeks to raise awareness of the value of recognition and its positive effect on client service; employee engagement; employee morale, attraction and retention; overall success of the Health Department. The Employee Recognition Policy was implemented 1/1/17 and also meets standards and measures required for national accreditation via the Public Health Accreditation Board (for which the MCHD is in preparation). The policy also states that the Health Department will recognize any full or part-time employee that receive “Good” or better scores in all categories on the annual performance evaluation by rewarding them with one paid leave day per year. In addition, professional photographs will be taken of each employee, BOH member and contract Medical Director Douglas Hunter, MD to be displayed within the Health Department office. To further recognize staff efforts, a bulletin board mounted in the Health Department reception area features current articles written by or in reference to employees. The board also serves to share awards and certificates honoring the work or personal accomplishment of Health Department staff. The MCHD encourages staff to provide any ideas, thoughts or directions they believe the department should consider for adoption and to provide positive comments about their fellow employees. A suggestion box has been mounted so that this can be done anonymously.
Administrator Courtney Midkiff commended the MCHD staff for making a difference in the quality of life in Meigs County.
“We have operated for a long time with a scaled back workforce that deserved overdue enhanced compensation and expansion to maintain the services we currently provide plus meet new challenges. Thanks to the passage of a replacement levy, the Board of Health was able to update its salary schedule for the first time in nearly six years and provide some additional long past due rewards to show the public’s appreciation to this great group of talented, committed professionals,” stated Midkiff.
Visit www.meigs-health.com for additional information about the Meigs County Health Department.