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Ravalli Co. Health Department is revamping

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:34:20 AM MDT
Updated On: Jun 30 2014 09:03:58 PM MDT
HAMILTON, Mont. -

The Ravalli County Public Health Department is revamping to accommodate changes in workload and community needs.

Clinical workloads changed when women's reproductive services closed last year.

Public health services continue unaltered, with professional staff on duty five days a week, although most staff members are working reduced hours.

For Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin, it has created new challenges with new emphasis.

The health department was awarded a one-time $25,000 performance management grant. It's designed to help the department follow through and evaluate plans and health concerns specific to Ravalli County.

"Preventive health is where it's at," said Griffin. "It goes back to prevent, promote, protect."

There is renewed emphasis on reducing vaccine-preventable disease in the county. Health workers are looking to improve timely immunization levels in children younger than 2.

Griffin said they want to "Showcase public health, and increase our immunization rates through advertisements of the immunization clinics."

There's renewed emphasis on basic maternal and child care services.

It's targeting pregnant women, non-pregnant women of child-bearing age, infants under a year, people under age 22, and kids with special needs.

The department is concentrating on emergency preparedness, like health problems that arise after forest fires or floods.

A health worker is working on water safety issues, distributing brochures providing education to keep safe on Montana waterways.

It continues to focus on communicable disease surveillance and followup.

Such needs are increasing in the Bitterroot, said Griffin, with "positive cases of pertussis and norovirus. We've seen an increase in Hepatitis C."

There's also another arm of the revamp -- suicide prevention.

The department will be training workers to educate the public about suicide awareness.

It's working to build a more physically active community, by helping to create and enhance more accessible and inviting places for people to walk or bicycle.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services said almost 60 percent of Ravalli County residents are overweight.

A fitter, more active population, said the health department, will save money in the long run.