Suffolk County has joined New York State and hundreds of communities throughout the nation in observing National Public Health Week, April 7 -13. This week -- as New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH states, "promotes the key components of the state's Prevention Agenda 2013-2017." County Executive Steve Bellone calls attention to some of Suffolk County's programs that help to protect and improve community health and quality of life.
"The focus of public health is prevention, so when it works, residents are not aware of it," said Bellone. "The Suffolk County Department of Health , under the direction of Dr. James Tomarken has been offering innovative and model programs to assist Suffolk County residents."
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services was established 85 years ago. It is the second largest county health department in New York State and it comprises numerous divisions, offices and bureaus, and dedicated staff who serve residents every day investigating and controlling disease outbreaks: testing drinking and beach water; inspecting restaurants, summer camps, petting zoos and more; coordinating services for children with special needs; providing immunizations; ensuring emergency preparedness, and promoting healthy lifestyles.
Among a vast array of programs the county provides, highlighted below are some of Suffolk County programs that are seldom recognized but always appreciated:
Division of Public Health, Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control
Suffolk County'sBureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control investigates, reports, and initiates outbreak control measures for over 70 communicable diseases in addition to surveillance for new and emerging diseases and unusual clusters of illnesses. Bureau staff investigates over 12,000 cases of reportable communicable diseases annually. The clinical staff provides 24 hour/7 day-a-week emergency coverage to respond to public health emergencies and reports.
Neighborhood Aide Program
Suffolk County's Neighborhood Aide program is a link between the county and the underserved and hard- to- reach populations in the community. Neighborhood Aides participate in various outreach activities, distribute materials listing health care services, offer tips on how to access these services, conduct and participate in informational/educational workshops make home visits to health center patients with emergent issues.