Employees Advocate for Well-Being of Montgomery County Residents
FONDA — Montgomery County’s Public Health Department advocates for a healthier community. On Tuesday, the department’s staff was recognized by the County Legislature for their efforts. The 13 employees received a proclamation highlighting their dedication and commitment to public health.
Montgomery County Public/ Mental Health Director Sara Boerenko said there are over 49,000 County residents who have likely benefited from a service the Public Health Department provides. Boerenko said her role is to ensure programs and functions are running smoothly, but emphasized that her staff is to thank for the majority of the work done within the Public Health Department.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the staff that we have,” Boerenko said.
Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said he agreed.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with our Public Health team,” Ossenfort said. “They are on the front line when it comes to providing critical services for County residents. I applaud their passion and commitment to the community,” he said.
The department works with infants, senior citizens, the school districts and fellow County employees. Staff is responsible for educating and advocating for healthier lifestyles through clinics, programs and social media.
Some of the programs Public Health provides are Early Intervention, Car Seat Distribution, Immunization and Chronic Disease. Staff teaches the public about rabies, proper hand washing and nutrition. The Public Health Department provides walking trail maps, flu information and can help children with special health care needs.
The Children with Special Health Care Needs program is a statewide system of care for children and their families. Children may begin the program at birth up until 21-years-old.
Mercy Williams, the program’s coordinator, said working with children and families is the best part of her job.
“Children are innocent, they do not discriminate, and I admired how they are resilient even when they have disabilities,” Williams said.
Assistant Public Health Director Laurel Headwell said all employees do more than one job.
“Employees wear many hats, are cross-trained and can fill in anywhere,” she said. “They are dedicated to public health.”
Business Manager Connie Couture said one of the most important aspects of her position is filing grant claims and state aid reports.
“So that we can secure the funding needed to provide such important programs and services to the public,” she said.
Immunization Coordinator Wanda Antos, RN, said she enjoys working with health care providers and coming up with innovative ways to improve the immunization rates in the County.
Suzanne Skelton, a BSN, RN Community Health Nurse within the department, explained how her position aids in the increased mobility our society has.
“Diseases that are occurring globally can easily become a local issue,” she said. “An important aspect of my position, as a communicable disease nurse, is that it enables me to do surveillance that will detect, protect, prevent, warn and educate the public regarding diseases that could have a serious impact on residents of our county and their families,” Skelton said.
She said it’s enjoyable to work in an environment with co-workers who share the same passion.
“It is a team approach and we work collaboratively towards the goal of creating a healthier, happier, and safer community for all to live, work, and play,” Skelton said.