July 19, 2006
STATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR VISITS THREE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS, MANY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER
Director visits Douglas, Coles and Cumberland County Health Departments to hand out an award, listen to department priorities and recognizes status
TUSCOLA – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, started his tour of the Douglas, Coles and Cumberland County Health Departments today in Tuscola in an effort to fulfill the promise he made when he took office in 2003 to visit every health department in the state. After today, Dr. Whitaker will have visited 48 out of 94 health departments, which covers 58 counties.
“Local health departments are the front lines of public health, they deal with people on a day to day basis,” said Dr. Whitaker. “The state must work to keep the communication lines open to find out what services communities need, what challenges the departments are facing and how the state department of the public health can help.”
Services and programs available through local health departments may include:
In addition to addressing the health priorities of the Douglas County Health Department, Dr. Whitaker also presented Tim Flavin with a Certificate of Appreciation, signed by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, for his volunteer service at Mi Raza, an Hispanic Outreach center where Latino populations are able to access information in Spanish and receive information on services within the community and the state.
After the construction of Mi Raza, in which Flavin donated flooring material and labor, Flavin provided direction for the center and became active in many coalitions and organizations to make Mi Raza more visible. Flavin and his wife have volunteered many hours to help with English as a Second Language classes, citizenship classes and the children’s camp.
“The Hispanic community has benefited immensely from the dedication and generosity that Tim Flavin has volunteered over the last two years. We would like to show our appreciation to Tim for his long term dedication that had led to so many outstanding achievements,’ said Douglas County Health Department Administrator Amanda Minor.
In Coles County, Health Department Administrator Fred Edgar and his staff discussed both local and state issues.
“We are proud of our local Department, and welcome Dr. Whitaker to our facility. This visit is an opportunity for him to tour our office and meet our staff. In addition, community leaders have a chance to join us to hear his priorities for the State Health Department, and speak with him about issues or concerns they may have,” said Edgar
At the Cumberland County Health Department, Dr. Whitaker acknowledged the department as also being named a Rural Health Clinic after the county was declared a health professional shortage area. Cumberland County Health Department Administrator Janet Stierwalt recently became a nurse practitioner, and with the designation of Rural Health Clinic, can offer the uninsured or underinsured of Cumberland County affordable health screenings and routine office visits. Access to health care is one of the priorities the health department discussed with Dr. Whitaker during his visit.
“Cumberland County is a small county of about 11,000 people with no stop lights and no practicing physicians. The nearest hospitals are 30 to 40 miles away. It means a great deal that Dr. Whitaker is visiting even the smallest health departments in the state and listening to our needs,” said Stierwalt.
Dr. Whitaker will continue to work towards his goal of visiting every health department in the state.
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