If you didn’t know much about the value of public health before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely increased awareness of its importance to residents of Dubuque and elsewhere.
Although there’s been a deadly virus that continues to spread around the world, public health agencies have been able to offer assistance at a national, state, and local level, which has been great news to people who need palliative care for medical conditions.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care continues to be grateful to public health officials for their assistance in coordinating information and assistance during the COVID epidemic, from testing centers to vaccine distribution.
Certainly, there are many people, companies, and agencies that have had a role in making all of this happen, including area providers, pharmacists, the military, and more. But public health agencies are the key to getting these groups together and let the public know what’s going on and increasing everyone’s awareness.
None of them are perfect, of course, and details and health recommendations that were given out in spring 2020 turned out to be different in some ways from recommendations handed out in spring 2021. This is due to everything from learning more about this virus and how it spreads to the effectiveness of different methods intended to lower the risk of infection.
Although the vaccine efforts this winter, spring, and summer will do a lot to instill people’s confidence and start to lower some strict health restrictions, the fight against COVID is expected to continue for at least another year, whether it’s monitoring other variants, tracking its spread, or continuing to reach people who may have not been available or willing in the first wave of vaccines.
Public health efforts
The good news about public health efforts is that the goal of informing and educating the community goes far beyond COVID.
Public health efforts include monitoring the spread of other communicable diseases, from the flu and pneumonia to sexually-transmitted diseases. Public health agencies can also work with all sorts of populations, including at-risk individuals.
They can provide counseling and medical services, especially to those who can’t afford or access other services.
They provide resources and general support for all ages, from pregnant moms and infants to teens and middle-aged people. Many state- or county-based public health agencies offer assistance for seniors living in their local service area.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are a variety of services available to seniors, including:
- Eldercare, which provides info about ways to get help for older adults, including home health assistance or independent living/residential care facilities. These can include short-term or long-term info. Eldercare is a useful resource for families, and also includes access to options for transportation, insurance benefits, legal rights, and more.
- This is another online resource that seniors can benefit from. Among other things, it provides info about various preventative health efforts and recommended health screenings for optimal health for any age. People can also get recommendations on which vaccines can benefit their health, such as the flu shot, pneumonia shot, or COVID vaccine. There are also links to everything from good nutrition to recommended physical activity.
- Administration on Aging. This program helps connect seniors with programs that make it easier to access programs such as home health services which can allow seniors to live independently in their homes or communities. Information can be found about how to explore services such as adult day care, caregiver support options, health promotion programs, and transportation. The administration also offers guidance on a variety of wellness programs, including self-management for certain health conditions, counseling services, and overall education. Mental health support options are also available.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC offers a variety of programs to help people of all ages, including seniors. This includes offering info about a variety of resources for dementia, something that is more common with seniors. Families trying to seek help for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions often don’t know where to turn for help. The CDC also offers a National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion which offers helpful advice for individuals dealing with mental conditions as well as surrounding friends and family members plus any caregivers. These services can also include encouraging a variety of tests and screenings for mental and physical health.
National Public Health Week
As a way to help spread the word about vital community programs, the first week in April has been declared National Public Health Week. This gives various health organizations opportunities to educate their patients and those who surround them. It also includes looking at a community for a variety of factors as well as projections for future growth. The organizer, the American Public Health Association, offers a variety of materials to increase awareness of other people’s health concerns. It also has some orders for consumers, providers, and elected officials.