National Public Health Week was from April 4-10 this year. The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines public health as a way to “promote and protect the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.” The purpose of National Public Health Week is to expand knowledge of public health’s role and the resources they provide in the community. Winona County’s Public Health Department plays a large role in COVID-19 relief. However, Winona County offers several other services and resources to promote and protect the health of people. These resources include immunization services, Maternal Child Health (MCH), State Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), Woman, Infants, & Children (WIC), emergency preparedness and response, disease prevention and control, and many more.
“Like many, I was introduced to public health because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Winona State University student Brooklyn Jorgensen states. “Little did I know, in three short years I would be graduating with a degree in public health and pursuing a Master of Public Health”.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) oversees public health across the nation. The CDC has 10 essential public health services that are centered around equal access to health services. Winona County Public Health uses these essential services to promote healthy living to all in a safe environment. Jorgensen says this has impacted her career, stating, “I chose public health because I want to make a difference in the community. Promoting healthy habits and equitable care to all is the perfect way for me to share my passion for health and wellness with others.”
Minnesota Statute 145A defines what local public health agencies are required to do. These statutory requirements include convening a community health board, completing a community health needs assessment, and reporting to the commissioner of health on a set of performance measures. Local public health uses these assessments and measures to prioritize activities in the areas of promoting healthy communities, preventing disease spread, increasing environmental health, preparing for emergencies, and assuring health services.
Community-driven health is focused on creating health equity. Health equity is providing equal access to health services to all Winona County residents. Public health is determined to lower the barriers that keep individuals in the community from living happy and healthy lives.
“Others should consider pursuing a degree in public health because it is a great way to get involved in the community by promoting and implementing fair services that increase the public’s health and well-being. The impact you will have on community member’s health, access to care, well-being, and safety, is worth the commitment,” says Jorgensen, “I am excited to share my knowledge and passion for community health with others in my future endeavors.”
To learn more about services provided by Winona County Public Health, visit co.winona.mn.us.