September is Preparedness month and the Washington County Health Department continues to provide training and information for the public about emergencies related to natural and biological events. In late June, WCHD worked with several of our more rural areas in coordination with the Washington County Emergency Management Agency to provide generators and assistance at cooling centers. In prior years WCHD has assisted with the floods and provided immunizations and recommendations on clean-up and well testing for safe drinking water. During the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 and 2010, WCHD worked with the schools and the community to provide immunizations to the members of the community who were most at risk for this influenza and eventually provided immunizations for all members of the community who desired to protect themselves against this new flu strain.
But emergency preparedness is far more than providing assistance where needed at the time of the emergency. It includes planning so that the responses can be made in a timely manner. It includes training of staff and volunteers so that they are ready to respond when called upon to do so. It also includes working with the community to help agencies, businesses, and families prepare for an emergency whether that emergency is manmade, biological, or natural in occurrence.
For example, did your family have sufficient supplies on hand for the sustaining itself during the storm aftermath in June and July? I know many had no access to generators for electricity or ice for keeping food and medicine cool, but did you have access to other foods or ways to cook them? Had you checked with your local pharmacy on what medicines would be stable at room temperature or needed refrigeration? Did you have any supply of water for drinking or cooking? Did your businesses have an emergency plan in place for closure and notification of employees? Did your business have stock that could not survive higher temperatures or would you need to dispose of certain items that did not make it through the outage event?
Communities were somewhat prepared and thankfully, our local EMA was there to provide information and direct recovery efforts. The sheriff's department, the Red Cross, the hospital system, and others all participated in helping the residents of Washington County. Neighbors helped neighbors and worked together to alleviate the problems that existed during a very trying time. However, all of these agencies involved must continue to be prepared and do indeed learn from past experiences and adjust their plans for future events accordingly. We all still need to do more in our planning and we can and should work together toward reviewing our plans from agency to agency, within the communities we serve and in our own families so that we can meet the challenges that may present themselves. For more information on family emergency preparedness you may contact the Washington County Health Department. Presentations can also be made through the WCHD to local civic or community groups that want to learn more on this topic.
In other Washington County Health Department news, we have several exciting opportunities to share. On Monday, Oct. 8, WCHD will be holding its annual drive-through flu shot clinic in the parking lot of the health department. This event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the past few years, this has been an opportunity for those who have problems walking to remain in their vehicles and still get a flu shot. It has also been a quick way to stop by and be proactive against the flu without even getting out of the car. Cost is $25 per shot for adults, $10 for children, and we can bill Medicare, Medicaid, and some private insurances. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.
The second opportunity for preventive health care is in collaboration with the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Community Health Program, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Projects of Southeast Ohio, and the Columbus affiliate of the Susan G. Komen For TheCure. Breast and cervical cancer screenings and education will be provided by the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Community Health Program on Tuesday, October 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be held on the Community Health Program's Mobile Van parked at the Washington County HelathDepartment, 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta. Free Pap tests, pelvic andbreastexaminations, breast health education, and referrals for mammograms will be provided to uninsured and underinsured women. Appointments are required. Interested persons should call 1-800-2654 or (740) 593-2432 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Kathleen Meckstroth is Washington County health commissioner and executive director of the Washington County Health Department, 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta.