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2014-2015 Annual Report: A Message From...District Board of Health Chair

Jonathan Rich

This report focuses on the work of the Northern Kentucky Health Department during fiscal year 2014-2015, but you’ll note a word that repeats throughout: partnerships. Partnerships are specifically mentioned, with Essential Services Number 4 being “Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems,” but collaboration is part of most of the other nine essential services.

Northern Kentucky’s response to Ebola is a perfect example of effective partnerships. The emerging infectious disease threat helped bring about renewed preparedness work among several agencies: St. Elizabeth Healthcare, first responders, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport and county emergency management officials, among others. The partners came together to address Ebola-related concerns such as personal protective equipment, and isolation and quarantine orders. Although the real-world applications of the work were minimal, with Ebola monitoring occurring for six travelers, the long-term impact is apparent: When Ebola or any other disease presents in Northern Kentucky, the public health and health care system will be better equipped to address it.

Addressing chronic disease threats requires collaboration as well, and the Health Department is once again bringing partners together to do so. The Humana Vitality program presented an opportunity for Health Department staff to work with local schools and government agencies to provide health screenings. The regular wellness checks are designed to help prevent illness and promote healthy behaviors, specifically around cardiovascular health. If the screening shows that a person’s levels are outside the normal range, Health Department nurses make referrals to other health care providers—furthering the partnership opportunities that the program provides.

Besides wellness screenings, policy change is another way to reduce the impact of chronic diseases in Northern Kentucky. The Health Department has worked together with both cities and community leaders on efforts to make healthy choices easier in Northern Kentucky. Complete streets is a concept that aims to design roads for use by walkers, bikers or other modes of transportation. The Health Department has partnered with officials in four cities and one county to implement such policies.

The public health problems that Northern Kentucky faces are complex and varied. The Northern Kentucky Health Department continues to work to address these issues by bringing partners together to take action to solve community health problems. The collaboration is essential to improve our community’s health.

Jonathan Rich, DMD
Chair, District Board of Health

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