The following is the text of a speech given by Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Division Director, to the County Board, on April 4, 2017.
The first week in April, marks National Public Health week. This week provides us the opportunity to call attention to the important work of the public health system. Our St. Louis County public health professionals are working every day to promote healthy communities and individuals.
Public Health staff are working up-stream in assuring that new moms and babies have healthy beginnings – we are now implementing the evidence-based family home visiting model, Healthy Families America. This model has proven to decrease the need for child protection services, reduce child maltreatment rates and promotes school readiness.
Two zip codes in St Louis County are within the top 10 ZIP codes within the state for childhood asthma hospitalizations and emergency room utilization. Through the Together for Health project at Myers -Wilkins, public health nurses are initiating an asthma home visiting program with the aim of reducing these rates.
St Louis County has one of the highest pre-mature death rates due to chronic diseases, and we are working regionally, through Healthy Northland, to implement chronic disease prevention initiatives with clinics and community partners.
We are also aligning resources to focus on the top community needs of mental health and substance abuse prevention. Your public health staff continue to assure that all of the young families in the County have the opportunity to have nutritious foods, that our older residents have coordinated health care so they can stay in their homes as long as possible, and that all of our citizens may have an opportunity to live in a neighborhood that supports healthy living.
Through National Public Health week, we are reminded that creating healthy communities means ensuring conditions that give everyone the opportunity to be healthy. I am proud of all of our Public Health professionals that do this important work. They are committed, innovative, and forward-thinking.
This week allows us to acknowledge and celebrate the vital contribution that individuals and organizations play in creating and supporting health in our communities.