WCPH support staff are the “friendly people to meet and greet you.” From left: Keri Sand, Lois Frana and Marian Henry.
WCPH support staff are the “friendly people to meet and greet you.” From left: Keri Sand, Lois Frana and Marian Henry.

Winneshiek County Public Health (WCPH) is celebrating National Public Health Week April 7-13. 

“We would like to remind you that public health starts here. Public Health has become an integral part of working to save lives and money by collaborating with the health care system with a particular emphasis focusing on healthcare reform. Winneshiek County Public Health has been a pillar of the community for 76 years and continues to offer support and education for our community,” said Krista Vanden Brink, WCPH administrator. 

“Winneshiek County Public Health takes pride in providing care for all Winneshiek County residents. With the county health ranking report just released, Winneshiek County has achieved the number two ranking of overall health. This is not possible without the participation of individuals in adopting healthy lifestyles,” Vanden Brink said.


Starts at home

The first steps a community takes toward public health is in the comfort of their own home and may include improving their family’s nutrition, health during pregnancy, conducting safety upgrades and preparing for emergencies, according to Vanden Brink. There is importance being placed on improving eating habits and exercise for young children. This is being done not only in schools but with child care providers and encouragement to continue it in their homes. 

One responsibility of public health is to help the community withstand the impact of either man-made or natural disasters by planning ahead. 

“Start here by gathering your household for a night of emergency preparedness. Make plans for putting together a stockpile kit to have a three-day supply of food and water stored in your homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day and a week’s supply of food that doesn’t require refrigeration,” said Vanden Brink. 

Visit ready.gov to get additional information on how to help you in an emergency. 

“Create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and practice household emergency drills. Learn not to panic,” Nancy Sacquitne, emergency preparedness coordinator for WCPH said.



Another area of focus for public health deals with prevention. 

This is now a nationwide priority, and there are more options than ever to work on and find those preventative health measures. It is important public health and health care providers continue to work together to help individuals in Winneshiek County identify and pursue the best preventative health options. 

Seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Seventy-five percent of the nation’s health care dollars go to treat these diseases however, only 3 percent of healthcare dollars go toward prevention. 

“If people work to improve their health by making healthy choices ,including not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active and getting the recommended screening tests, we can make a difference of what those health care costs are. Start now to work on eating more healthy and getting more physically active,” said Sacquitne. 


Best practices

Public Health also teaches about best practices in a food-borne illness outbreak and how to understand food labels. 

Winneshiek County Public Health will do tracking in the case of a potential food-borne illness. Public Health also helps to improve dietary and health habits to prevent further spread of the disease. 

“One of the best practices for all disease prevention is good hand washing. Communicable disease is something that WCPH works to get rid of on a daily basis with the use of vaccinations and health education,” Vanden Brink said.


Healthier tomorrow

“How can the citizens of Winneshiek County help to make our nation become a healthier nation in one generation?” asked Sacquitne.  

“Work within the community to make sure we strive for a healthier tomorrow. Participate in programs that are offered by various providers such as the hospital and clinics, libraries, schools and WCPH. 

“Become more active, take a walk, ride a bike, use the trails. Invite a friend to join you. Work to improve your own eating habits. Try new foods especially fruits and vegetables,” Sacquitne said. 

For more information, visit WCPH at winneshiekhealth.org or friend WCPH on Facebook at Winneshiek County Public Health.

“We are fortunate in our community to have resources available -- check them out,” said Sacquitne.   

Call Winneshiek County Public Health at 563-382-4662 for more information on the services it offers. 

“And remember only you make a difference in your life so why not start here in Winneshiek County,” concluded Sacquitne.