A Day in the Life
Public health work is never dull or boring. The diversity in public health challenges employees to be knowledgeable in many health related topic areas. Here is a typical day at the NNPHD office:
7 a.m. A NNPHD staff is collecting the mosquitoes attracted to the traps set the night before and placed in trees located in fields near Ponca and Wayne. The mosquitoes are sorted back at the office, packed in dry ice and shipped to the Nebraska Public Health Lab at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where they are tested for West Nile Virus. This is a disease surveillance program.
8 a.m. Check emails: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s EpiX listserve shows that there is an outbreak of salmonella in areas of southeast U.S., Iowa has a case of measles, and lab-confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus are beginning to be reported.
9 a.m. A Public Health Nurse makes a phone call to health district resident: “This is the Public Health Nurse from Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department and I understand that you have been ill with vomiting and diarrhea. I have some questions for you about your illness; is this a good time for you to talk to me?" The patient attended a potluck dinner where several persons became ill with similar symptoms three to four days after the event. The patient’s history is taken, other contacts are identified and a review is written of foods consumed for the past few days.
10 a.m. A resident calls in to report their pet dog just encountered a skunk and the dog has not been vaccinated for rabies. The Public Health staff instructs the caller with the next steps necessary in order to protect all people and animals from possible rabies.
10:30 a.m. Resident stops by the office for a radon kit to test the levels in their home. A test kit and instructions are given to the person.
11 a.m. A staff member is performing a “call down” from the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for the four county Health District so that the names and roles of citizens as listed in the ERP are current and accurate in case of a real public health emergency.
Noon A meeting with hospital nursing administration was held to discuss the health literacy program that is designed to help patients better understand their illnesses. The nurses request that newly designed hospital forms be run through our health literacy computer software program. The results suggest a more simple and understandable wording.
1 – 5 p.m. The Health Equity Coordinator is participating in a webinar about injury prevention programs for the elderly population; the Director of Public Health Nursing is in the office conference room attending a statewide meeting via conference call about the new Maternal Child Health grant requirements; a Community Health Worker is attending the satellite office where he will assist the public health nurse to help residents access needed health services and programs; the Emergency Response Coordinator is working on an After Action Report to the state for an emergency response exercise (drill) that took place between the public health department, the hospitals, the county emergency managers, law enforcement, and others; and the Health Director is preparing program financial reports for the Board of Health meeting next week.
6 – 7 p.m. The last public health staff members leave the office for the day…carrying homework to finish after supper.