You decide to stop for coffee and a doughnut before work. Later you head to the grocery store to pick up a few items. You go out of town and stay at a hotel and enjoy the pool while there. You go to a festival and enjoy a corndog and a funnel cake.
During each of these activities, you don’t think about who it is that makes sure such activities are safe for you and others. It is for this reason that this week has been set aside as Environmental Health Professionals Week in the commonwealth. It is these professionals that ensure the protection of our environment and the health of our citizens.
Health environmentalists do many things to protect public health. By statute we regulate and inspect many facilities both public and private. These include restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, hotels, tattoo studios, body and ear piercing studios, farmers markets, mobile home and RV parks, public swimming pools, youth camps and bed and breakfasts.
We also conduct water sampling of private wells and review plans of regulated facilities, along with the regulation of private septic systems. These systems must be installed according to the law and those who install them must be properly trained. We maintain continuing education to keep up with the ever changing world we live in.
Animal bite investigation is another important aspect of our job. By law all cats, dogs and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies. We work closely with City and County Animal Control, local veterinarians and the Franklin County Humane Society to ensure animals are quarantined properly and show no signs of the rabies virus. Every year we sponsor rabies clinics to ensure that pets are vaccinated against the virus at a discounted rate.
And when disaster hits, we are there, too, making sure the public is safe at emergency shelters and that establishments know how and what is necessary to get life back to normal.
All of our environmental health staff is Epi Rapid Response Team members, which means we have received specific public health epidemiology training to investigate and identify reportable diseases. This enables us to minimize and prevent the transmission of disease and illness including food-borne illnesses and other infectious agents that can be contracted through public surroundings.
Here in Franklin County, we have a dedicated team of health environmentalists that work every day to ensure the health of our citizens. If you have any questions about our work, feel free to check out our web page at www.fchd.org and click on the Environmental tab.
There you can find links for many things, including food handler and manager classes online and recent inspection scores from local restaurants. You can also reach us at 502-564-7382.
Jenny Bardroff is a Health Environmentalist and Preparedness Planner for the Franklin County Health Department.