BY JANE HINSON
April 4-10, 2022, is National Public Health Week. I want to take this opportunity to thank the individuals who work at the Iredell County Health Department, which offers dental, child health, maternal health, immunization, HIV testing and counseling, sexually transmitted disease and family planning clinic services. Care Management services are offered to women with high risk pregnancies. At-risk population care management is also offered to children from birth to 5 years of age. Our Women, Infant & Children program offers nutritional counseling, breastfeeding support and free healthy food purchases for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from birth to age 5. Our residents can also take advantage of our low-cost walk-in laboratory services. This program is especially beneficial for individuals who don’t have health insurance or have a high deductible.
We have public health emergency response plans that are exercised regularly. North Carolina has over 80 reportable communicable diseases. Each disease has specific control measures that we are tasked statutorily with following. From tuberculosis to hemorrhagic fever (Ebola), public health works to slow the spread of disease in our county.
Also, Iredell County births and deaths are reported to the health department by hospitals, medical examiners, medical providers, funeral homes and hospices. Our Deputy Registrar reviews these documents for accuracy prior to their filing at the Office of the Register of Deeds.
Our environmental health program ensures the safety of public facilities that include child care institutions, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, public swimming pools, tattoo parlors, migrant housing and camps.
We inspect and permit public eating establishments, caterers, mobile food units and concession stands. When children have elevated blood lead levels, we assist NCDHHS with identifying the lead source and the property owner with the development of a remediation plan. When a clandestine methamphetamine lab is identified by the SBI or local law enforcement, we work with the property owner to ensure that no human occupies the property without the proper clean-up and our approval. Mosquito control complaints are also addressed through home visits and education.
We work with partners to address public health concerns that impact the health of our community though 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.
Each health department in North Carolina is required by General Statute to pass a public health accreditation audit and onsite 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 have to assure the continued licensure, education and competency of our staff. No deficiencies were identified during our last public health accreditation survey in October of 2018.
Our administrative staff manage appointments, registration, eligibility, billing, revenue and expenditures. We follow all Iredell County fiscal control policies and procedures. In a county with over 180,000 residents, our public health work is accomplished with only 110 full-time positions.
During National Public Health Week, it is certainly fitting to recognize the staff of the Iredell County Health Department for their dedication to serving others. It is my privilege to be a member of this extraordinary team.
Jane Hinson is the Iredell County health director.