For many people in Pocahontas County, the county health department is a place where they can receive their annual flu shot. However, the services offered by the department go beyond that. Those services are many and varied.
The health department specializes in a number of clinical services, including blood pressure screenings, communicable disease prevention, family planning programs, immunization programs and HIV/AIDS, STD and Tuberculosis testing and screenings.
Family Planning clinics are offered once a month and cover a variety of services that are based on a sliding fee scale and in most cases can be offered to the patient at little or no cost. “We partner with Bonnie’s Bus [Mobile Mammography Program at the WVU Cancer Institute] once a year,” explained health nurse Jessica Shinaberry, “providing screening mammograms for women in our county. This year we had a large enrollment and provided three full days in August.”
In addition to breast and cervical screenings, the Health Department provides free and confidential STD testing and treatment.
“That includes HIV testing,” Wilfong added. “Jessica is certified to do testing and counseling, as well.”
Immunizations are another service offered by the health department.
“We offer adult immunizations – pneumonia, shingles, adult Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis [Tdap] vaccine, and the flu shots,” Shinaberry said. “Flu shots began after October 1 at the health department which is a recommendation we receive from the state immunization program.”
In order to provide immunizations, Shinaberry sets up in libraries and senior centers across the county.
“I have gone to several local businesses throughout the county this year and provided flu vaccination clinics,” she added. “We also have it here [at the health department] on a walk-in basis.”
The health department supplies all recommended vaccines for children 18 and under, as well.
Among Shinaberry’s other duties is disease surveillance – the tracking and tracing of an outbreak and providing education and information to the community.
“Disease surveillance is very important,” Wilfong said. “If there are reportable infectious disease cases in the county, we actually do the tracing and tracking. We make sure people follow up and get treated before it becomes an outbreak in our community.”
In addition to their clinics, the health department’s presence expands well into the community.
“We inspect restaurants, hotels, motels and schools,” said Wilfong, “as well as public pools, septic systems and wells. We also inspect bed and breakfasts, too. We make sure all these places are safe. We inspect restaurants twice a year, and if there are complaints, we follow up more often.”
For those in the food service industry, food handler courses are offered through the health department several times a year and we also offer an online class located at www.pocahontashealthdepartment.com.
The class instructs its students in the basics of food care – such as washing hands and watching temperatures – and focuses on causes of potential harm and how to avoid them. Students are also encouraged to pay attention to small details, such as refrigerator organization, proper labeling and when to dispose of food.
The health department is responsible for maintaining the Pocahontas County clean indoor air policy, as well.
“You cannot smoke in any public facility,” Wilfong said. “You must be twenty-five feet from any opening to a public facility. The health department monitors this through inspections and follows up on complaints. Violations to this policy can lead to fines.”
In addition to cigarettes, the Pocahontas County Board of Health has moved to add e-cigarettes and other vapor smoking devices to the current clean indoor air policy. The addition of e-cigarettes is currently out for public comment.
The health department also provides animal surveillance and education regarding rabies prevention.
The Pocahontas County Health Department is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be reached at 304-799-4154. Information on when and where clinics will be held can be found in the Public Notice portion of the Calendar in The Pocahontas Times.