What Is Public Health?
Public health professionals often say “You are public health.” What does that mean exactly? Each individual’s health and the risks to that health add up together to make public health. Sometimes the work of public health is not seen because it actually prevents bad things from happening. For example:
- The family whose well water does not get polluted from area construction or industry. Water quality personnel protect our homes through inspecting sites, licensing sewage systems and enforcing environmental laws.
- The bride and groom and their wedding guests who are not running to the bathroom for days after the catered meal. A coordinated effort between restaurant inspectors and nursing investigation of disease reports make it safe to dine out.
- The child who is not developmentally delayed from abuse or neglect. Public health nurses teach parenting skills and health guidance to young mothers.
- Young adults whose teeth are not brittle and full of cavities. Fluoride programs have given the younger generation bright smiles.
- The child who does not get a head injury or become paralyzed in a terrible car accident. Car seats and highway safety promotions have prevented countless deaths and devastating injuries.
- The daycare that minimizes the spread of infection among children and staff. Communicable disease health guidelines implement restrictions on attendance with symptoms such as rashes and diarrhea.
- The baby who did not die from polio or become deaf from measles. Childhood and adult immunizations have prevented millions of cases of disease from occurring.
Public Health Touches All of Us
In fact, public health touches the lives of every resident of Erie County every day, not only through these services but through a very broad spectrum of community-wide programs and partners. Public health includes cities and rural communities. It means that our restaurants, schools, mobile home parks, swimming pools, beaches, public water systems, public sewer systems, and septic systems are being monitored for adherence to basic standards. It means that programs related to diseases carried by insects and rodent-control are in place.
It means that the ECDH is involved with and working with others on the public health issues resulting from social problems such as poverty, access to care, economic development and housing. Programs dealing with MRSA, dental sealants for children, childhood lead poisoning, nutrition, physical activity, chronic disease education and prevention, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, bike helmets, and overall health and safety education are all offered both directly through public health and in partnership with other excellent local organizations. Public health is everything to everybody.
Statistics For Our Community
Finally, health data is constantly being collected about our community by the Erie County Department of Health. Though statistics may seem boring, local disease numbers are what drive decisions made by our government leaders about where to spend money in health care. And getting more public dollars for our community is exciting!