House Bill 129, sponsored in part by District 62 State Rep. Philip Pratt, will benefit the state health department districts by providing new definitions of key terms, regulating employment guidelines and establishing directives to define core, foundational and local health programs.
WEDCO District Health Department and Home Health Agency in Georgetown serves Scott, Nicholas and Harrison counties as well as Bourbon County Home Health services. WEDCO Public Health Director Dr. Crystal Miller was part of the advisory committee that provided information to legislators writing the bill. Miller looks forward to the positive impact the new measures will have on WEDCO, she said.
“In the past we have been a sort of catch all for public health, what ever the need was in the community, we tried to provide that. But we realized we were using a lot of resources helping with programs that were available somewhere else,” said Miller. “We recently discontinued our cancer information program for example, because we saw duplicity in the system. That information was being provided by other partners in health care and it didn’t make any sense for us to concentrate our resources on that subject.
“We are looking forward to concentrating on population health.”
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Population health, as defined by House Bill 129, is the development and support of policies and practices to address, change and improve health outcomes through community education and partnership development.
The health district has many successful partnerships such as the police department, county schools and local businesses, Miller said.
“We partner with local businesses to provide flu shots for their employees,” she said. “It’s easier for us to bring a team to their locations and get everyone immunized right there.”
The role of the health department in the community is changing, according to Miller.
“Ten years ago, everyone was coming to the health department to get a flu shot, now you can get them anywhere, but people still associate our purpose to vaccinations and that’s just one part of our outreach,” Miller said. “When I ask a a group of people ‘How many of you use the health department?’ very few will raise their hands. Then I remind them that if they go out to dinner, they are benefiting from our services through restaurant inspections.