You may not realize it, but public health is everywhere and impacts everyone. Join us to celebrate public health in Lorain County. Get a behind the scenes look at some of the things that are being done for the health of us all, and some of the people who are making it happen. Happy National Public Health Week!
Be Healthy From the Start: Breastfeeding
It has been said that Public Health begins with breastfeeding since breast milk is, typically, one of the first things a baby receives after being born. Mother of three, Jessica Leos brings a voice of experience and compassion to her job as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor with Lorain County WIC (Women, Infants and Children). “I love how life changing breastfeeding is for local moms, babies, families, and even me,” said Jessica.
Support for new mothers is crucial to help babies be healthy from the start. Jessica encourages her clients to visit local breastfeeding support groups, like the one at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center. “There is no cost and any nursing mom can attend, no matter where they delivered,” encouraged Jessica.
Jessica once met a grandmother with five, now, adult children, who felt guilty for not nursing her first two children and the obvious health differences between them and their siblings. Jessica quickly pointed out what a role model the woman had been. So much so that the two children she hadn’t nursed decided to breastfeed their own children. “Sometimes it takes many years for the seeds planted to grow. But, like this inspirational grandmother the fruits of her labor will continue to influence the health of many generations,” said Jessica. “I can’t make anyone breastfeed, but I plant the seed,” added Jessica.
A Healthy Start from Birth
“Serving our people, especially the youngest who have no voice, is the best thing about my job,” said Doris Wald, RN, Public Health Nurse. Doris along with a team of public health nurses at the Lorain County General Health District work to protect and prevent diseases for local residents. In Lorain County, protection starts at an early age through immunizations and the Newborn Visiting Program. Any family in our health district can receive an in-home visit from a public health nurse. During the visit, the nurse will help to ensure that the baby is growing well and answer any questions. A key to creating a health start for children is to “empower families to seek help and experts,” added Doris. “We help to cocoon families with care, screenings and resources that set them up for success,” said Doris.
An important piece throughout life, but starting early on is protection through immunizations. “Today’s immunizations are extremely safe,” stated Doris. Adding, “I encourage parents to look up information on diseases that could danger their child should they choose not to vaccinate.” Parents have the power to increase the health and lifetime of their child and loved ones. In fact, “when parents make the decision to not vaccinate, you must know you’re impacting the health for all the people your child will come into contact in the future.” Health and disease are contagious.
Keep Calm... Don’t Panic
All our lives we’ve heard the directions: be prepared... get ready. Preparation is the key to succeeding, right? Whether studying for a test, packing for a trip, or making a to-do list for the day—getting ready for action is important! In public health we know the same is true for disasters and emergencies; those events that may happen and if so we need to be ready to keep Lorain County safe and healthy.
How about your family or business’ plan? If you don’t have one, keep calm and visit ready.gov to build a simple, yet vital, plan.
Get Out Ahead & Prevent Disease
“Make a change before you have to,” said Alison Cariglio, Health Educator at Lorain County General Health District. If you wait until you become ill, you’ll have to make more dramatic changes to your lifestyle. “Make a healthy choice today, and a year from now you’ll be glad you did,” said Alison.
“I love that each person has the choice to be well, and it’s easier that you think,” said Alison. Take advantage of natural breaks throughout the day. During lunch at work, go for a brisk walk, or do chair dips at your desk. For a convenient place to walk, meet new friends and tackle fitness goals, check out Lorain County Fitness Walks, Mondays in April at 5:30 p.m. at the Lorain County Metro Parks Splash Zone (95 West Hamilton Road, Oberlin, OH 44074). There is no cost.
Become a foodie and plan ahead like Alison does, “Pick one night each week to prepare healthy foods for the week ahead. It will save you time, and you won’t have to stress about what to eat each night.” Plan to: Cook a large batch of whole grain rice; Chop fruits and veggies and put them in baggies for healthy grab-on-the-go snacks; and Bake chicken with a variety of seasonings.
Prevention is a nationwide priority, and everyone can do something to keep healthy. For fresh recipe ideas, visit LiveHealthyLorainCounty.com.
Eat Well... food is just one piece of the puzzle
“We’re working with partners, school districts, food service staff, and food establishments around the county, and eating well is becoming more possible for more people,” said Marilyn Hill, Health Educator at Lorain County General Health District
At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, Wellington Exempted Village School District won a salad bar, provided by Whole Foods. Winning a salad bar is great news, but it hasn’t stopped there. The Lorain County General Health District continues to work with Wellington’s school food service professionals to successfully implement its use and to promote fruits and veggies.
“We know that eating well can lead to living well, less disease, smarter students, more productive workers, and healthier communities,” said Marilyn. In August 2013, school food service professionals from all over Lorain County joined together to learn food prep skills and how to get students excited about eating healthier options.
You can be a part of the puzzle, too! Get involved at work, your child’s school, or your local farm market. Together, we can make eating well the norm in Lorain County.
Live Healthy: a closer look at the Black River
As recent as 30 years ago you would be hard pressed to find people in or around the Black River due to its cesspool qualities; lack of oxygen, sewage overflow, and oil pollution. “Today we’re seeing the 30-mile-long river being used for recreational and fitness activities, all thanks to major improvements to its water quality and a recommitment to revitalize the waterway,” said Jill Lis, RS, Director of Environmental Health at the Lorain County General Health District. The Black River, which supplies clean water to Lake Erie, impacts the health of our drinking water and local fish supply.
For decades, our partners have worked to change the reputation and value of the Black River, including: the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Northeast Ohio Coordination Agency, Black River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) committee, Lorain Port Authority, Lorain County Metro Parks, and others. “Our ongoing collaborations are exciting as we work to bring complete restoration to the river and other waterways,” said Jill.
“We all must do our part to help protect this natural resource for the health of us all and future generations,” said Jill. Discover more about the Black River RAP at www.BlackRiverRap.com.