April 3-9, 2023, is National Public Health Week. The last three years have been difficult ones for our public health team at the Iredell County Health Department. We were tasked with enforcing state communicable disease laws and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Throughout the turmoil and chaos of the pandemic, our public health team remained focused on our mission to Promote and Protect Community, Personal and Environmental Health.

We continued to provide legislatively mandated environmental health services and other clinical services during the pandemic. Those services included dental, prenatal, child health, health promotion, family planning, communicable disease control, care management for high risk children and women with high risk pregnancies, immunizations, vital records, the Women, Infant & Children’s program and public health preparedness.

So here we are over three years after our first positive COVID-19 case. I am asking you to help celebrate the staff of Iredell County Health Department during National Public Week. Why? Because of their resilience and innovation. Not only has our team weathered the COVID-19 storm, they have faced
staffing shortages, endured public scrutiny and backlash all while still seeking opportunities to improve the health of Iredell County’s residents.

Just like many organizations, we are finding it difficult to recruit and retain. Over 50 percent of our public health team has been with us five years or less. Public health is a rewarding career but not always an easy one. Enforcing laws and administrative rules is not always a pleasant experience for our team and sometimes our residents, but we continue to stand proud and strong knowing the importance of our work and how it protects the lives of others.

We will celebrate our 112 full-time staff members and contracted staff during National Public Health Week. I ask you to remember the individuals who worked in the darkness on a freezing cold morning to offer COVID vaccines or worked on a Saturday to permit a mobile food unit at a festival. Think of public health the next time you drink clean water from your well, share a night out with friends at a local restaurant, bring your toddler in for vaccinations or seek guidance when you learn you have been exposed to a family member with active tuberculosis.

We’ll continue to serve our community quietly and purposefully as we did before the pandemic. You should be proud of your public health team that received one of only two “Health Department of the Year” awards from the N.C. Public Health Association last fall. In March of this year, your team was also recognized by the United Way of North Carolina for Crisis Control and Community Resilience. It is certainly my privilege to work alongside this outstanding public health team that has dedicated their careers to serve you!

Jane Hinson is the Iredell County Public Health Director.