APRIL 5-11 IS NATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH WEEK: BUILDING BRIDGES TO BETTER HEALTH
Contact: Mary von Mohr
Fernandina Beach, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health recognizes Public Health Week this year with the theme “Building Bridges to Better Health”. Each day of the week focuses on areas to improve within Public Health to create a Healthier Nation. These areas include: rebuilding the public health infrastructure, advancing racial equity, strengthening the community, galvanizing climate justice, constructing COVID-19 resilience, uplifting mental health and wellness, and elevating the essential and health workforce. Making communities safe and healthy is public health’s top priority.
The Nassau County Health Department (CHD) is managed by agency director, Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, MD MPH, who has lead the agency for thirty years. She has fostered a strong team of over eighty professionals, including nurses, epidemiologists, nutritionists, environmental health specialists, social workers, dental staff, health educators and many other public health employees. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded each of us of the importance of our personal and community health. Nassau CHD employees have worked tirelessly since last February responding to COVID-19 with coordinated efforts including testing, contact tracing and vaccinations to minimize spread of the virus. Our efforts have included building “new bridges of care for better health” as the community was served. This included work with private and public partners to limit the spread of COVID-19 by providing infection control guidance, education, case investigations and contact tracing, free testing and vaccinations. Looking back, the first case of COVID-19 in Nassau County was identified on March 10, 2020. Since then, Nassau County’s total case count is 7,554 (as of 3/31/2021). We have regretfully had 120 COVID-19 deaths. At the end of late December 2020, FDOH began delivering vaccines to the pre-determined priority groups and since then we have seen 26,533 people become vaccinated (as of 3/31/2021).
In thinking about our community’s health, FDOH recognizes the recent release (March 31st) of new health rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The County Health Rankings uses traditional, common data, much of which was obtained from the Department and is available at www.FLHealthCHARTS.com. The Rankings show us there are many influences on health: economic, social, behavioral, environmental, and clinical care factors. Health is everyone’s business, including employers, educators and urban planners, so all stakeholders in a community must work together to improve health. We must “build bridges to obtain better health.” The Rankings measure includes two main categories: Health Outcomes and Health Factors. Health Outcomes use length of life and quality of life as standard measurements to describe a community’s health. Health Factors are indicators that help determine our future health (i.e., factors that can ultimately make us sick or lead to an early death). The Rankings can reveal strengths and obstacles to health and can give focus and direction to help make Nassau County a healthier place to live.
The data this past year revealed areas of improvement and opportunities for our community to make improvements. The results of the 2020 County Health Rankings report show how Nassau County ranks among all sixty-seven (67) Florida counties – Nassau County improved in Health Outcomes from 33rd in 2020 to 26th in 2021 and in Health Factors from 9th to 8th in the state. Nassau County rankings improved from 2019 to 2020 in three areas: health outcomes (33 to 26), length of life (39 to 38), and quality of life (12 to 11). This is good news, as again it demonstrates great hope for the improvement of health in our community. The overall ranking for health behaviors improved from 29 to 26.
Factors where we exceed (performing better than the state) the state rate include uninsured persons 11% to 16%, mammography screening 49% vs 43%, flu vaccinations 53% to 46%, high school completion rate 91% vs 88%, children in poverty 13% vs 18% and violent crime rate of 166 vs 484.
Opportunities for improvement include the following areas where we see a worsening trend: adult smoking 20% vs the state rate of 15%, adult obesity 30% vs 27%, alcohol impaired driving deaths 36% vs. 22%, excessive drinking 24% vs 20%, and injury deaths 98 vs 82.
To address the decline in the health behaviors category, we utilize the Partnership for Healthier Nassau planning team. This committee facilitates the Nassau Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) which works to improve health for our all who live and work here. By joining with CHIP efforts, you can be a part of health improvement in our community. Current action plan goals include the topics of access to care, behavioral health and substance abuse, community support, health disparities and housing and healthy places. If any of these topics interest you please call us to get involved.
The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Nassau County. By utilizing our current strengths and focusing efforts on today’s protective messaging, we will move beyond the COVID virus. We will see a tomorrow of renewed health, hope and partnership. Working together, everyone can make Nassau County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play.
To learn more about the Nassau County Health Department or the Nassau CHIP, call Mary von Mohr at 904-557-9133. To explore more health indicators in your county, visit www.FLHealthCHARTS.com. To watch a video about County Health Rankings, visit https://youtu.be/RZjV2ZIrfGQ.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.
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