Protecting the public’s health is a key mission of the Lake County General Health District, but that’s not all it does to support the community

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The Lake County General Health District’s mission is “Working to prevent disease, promote equity in health, and protect our community through innovative public health practice.”

By Mary Malik

Have you ever wondered what our local health departments really do? We learned through Covid-19 that they enforce the rules and regulations put in place by the US Department of Health and Human Services. But when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic, the local departments continue their work to prevent disease, promote equity in health, and initiate innovative public health practices to protect their communities.

“There are 112 health districts in Ohio,” says Ron Graham, Lake County General Health District (LCGHD) commissioner. “We handle everything from infectious disease to nuisance complaints, septic inspections, nuclear radiation monitoring and so much more. Anything that can cause a threat to the health and well-being of the community falls under our umbrella.”

LCGHD is responsible for making sure local pools and restaurants abide by the health codes along with anywhere else there is perishable food, including grocery stores, schools, food trucks and vending machines.

“We also investigate for things like anthrax and the presence of syphilis, gonorrhea, Hepatitis C and other communicable diseases, which must be reported to us by labs,” Ron says. “Controlling the spread of disease is a primary goal. Our mosquito spraying program that takes place three times throughout the summer months uses a 100% natural product, covers all public areas, and the trucks are electric.”

The Lake County General Health District takes the lead on assessing needs of the community and provides the necessary intervention.
The Lake County General Health District handles everything from infectious disease to nuisance complaints, septic inspections, nuclear radiation monitoring and so much more.

Many readers might remember the train derailment that took place in Painesville in 2007 and set fire to cars containing methanol, LPG and phthalic anhydride. The local health department took the lead on assessing that threat to the public.

“Every couple of years since then we’ve had a major event occur that has tested us as an organization,” Ron says. “We’ve had our own building flood, burn down, H1N1 in 2010, an Ebola outbreak after that and then Covid-19. Through it all, we’ve been here to guide the public.”

Along with these major events, the LCGHD provides adult and child vaccines at their headquarters in Mentor.

“We are, of course, an emergency response organization, however, we also provide education, and case management for the public,” Ron says. “For example, we offer care coordination for children in need to receive testing for things like cystic fibrosis, asthma, PKU and other suspected illnesses or genetic anomalies.”

And LCGHD also provides education for young people on topics like underage drinking, safe driving and tobacco use and for the seniors on injury prevention and safety at home. Educating the public is a large part of their community outreach.

“Every three years we do a community health assessment looking for trends in health and wellness,” Ron says. “These assessments result in initiatives to create things like biking paths. We give people the information and opportunities needed to be more active and improve their overall health.”

As a result of this assessment, the LCGHD aims to provide transportation for cognitively delayed community members for things like doctor appointments and errands.

“We’ll assess the needs of our community members and provide the necessary intervention,” Ron says.

Ron recommends checking out the LCGHD website for information on all it provides and the programs in place that require volunteers to help in their efforts to improve the health and wellness of the community. “We provide all training.”

Ron encourages Lake county residents to “Join our Facebook page and stay informed on all we’re doing to make our community a healthier place to live.”

The Lake County General Health District is located at 5966 Heisley Rd. in Mentor. For more information call 440-350-2543 and check the website and follow on Facebook for all of the programs and events the district has to offer.