County Executive Bellone Asks “Do You Know What Your Health Department is Up To?”

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Bellone: The focus of public health is prevention, so when it works, residents are not aware of it.

Hauppauge, NY - April 8, 2014 - Suffolk County has joined New York State and hundreds of communities throughout the nation in observing National Public Health Week, April 7 -13. This week -- as New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH states, “promotes the key components of the state’s Prevention Agenda 2013-2017.” County Executive Steve Bellone calls attention to some of Suffolk County’s programs that help to protect and improve community health and quality of life.
 
"The focus of public health is prevention, so when it works, residents are not aware of it,” said Bellone. “The Suffolk County Department of Health , under the direction of Dr. James Tomarken has been offering innovative and model programs to assist Suffolk County residents.”  
 
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services was established 85 years ago. It is the second largest county health department in New York State and it comprises numerous divisions, offices and bureaus, and dedicated staff who serve residents every day investigating and controlling disease outbreaks: testing drinking and beach water; inspecting restaurants, summer camps, petting zoos and more; coordinating services for children with special needs; providing immunizations; ensuring emergency preparedness, and promoting healthy lifestyles.
 
Among a vast array of programs the county provides, highlighted below are some of Suffolk County programs that are seldom recognized but always appreciated:
 
Division of Public Health, Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control
Suffolk County’s Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control investigates, reports, and initiates outbreak control measures for over 70 communicable diseases in addition to surveillance for new and emerging diseases and unusual clusters of illnesses.  Bureau staff investigates over 12,000 cases of reportable communicable diseases annually.  The clinical staff provides 24 hour/7 day-a-week emergency coverage to respond to public health emergencies and reports. 
 
Neighborhood Aide Program
Suffolk County’s Neighborhood Aide program is a link between the county and the underserved and hard- to- reach populations in the community.  Neighborhood Aides participate in various outreach activities, distribute materials listing health care services, offer tips on how to access these services, conduct and participate in informational/educational workshops make home visits to health center patients with emergent issues.
 
STD Control and Infectious Disease/HIV Program
Suffolk County’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Unit (STD) Control Unit, investigates reported cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. Staff initiates disease intervention strategies, which include interviews of the patient, counseling and referrals as needed, contacts and partner notification and follow-up and investigation of possible clusters. Medical providers are contacted to ensure treatment is completed. Additionally, the county provides primary care and case management services for more than 475 HIV-positive patients as well as HIV counseling and testing services at its health centers. In 2013, Suffolk County provided tens of thousands of HIV tests to residents.
 
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, nutrition and health education plus health and human services referrals to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum women, infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk. The program provides food checks that can be used at local grocery stores and pharmacies to buy specific WIC- approved nutritious foods. While receiving WIC benefits, participants learn about good nutrition, breastfeeding, choosing healthy foods and other health concerns.
 
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP)
CLPPP provides education and outreach on lead poisoning prevention and case management of children who have been poisoned by lead. The program facilitates screening for children who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover the test. The program is also responsible for environmental data management to identify exposure patterns and high-risk populations for strategic planning for lead poisoning prevention at the local and state levels. As soon as a lead poisoned child is identified, home visitation and an environmental investigation (case management) begins.
 
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit nphw.org. For more on how local health departments in New York State are celebrating Public Health Week, see nysacho.org.  For more about the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, its divisions and the services it provides, click here.
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