Just as the work of Public Health covers a wide variety of health topics, so do the winners of this year's St. Louis County Public Health Achievement Awards.
The St. Louis County Board, during its meeting today in Duluth, recognized three groups and one individual for their work to improve health in our the region. Honorees this year include the Ely Community Health Center, Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN), First Ladies of the Hillside, and Duluth City Councilor Terese Tomanek.
The Ely Community Health Center increases access to health care for hundreds of people each year, improving the health of the community. Services include management of chronic illness, treatment for minor injuries, medication management, blood pressure clinics at the Senior Center, a Dental Innovation Program, referrals, and MnSure Navigation Services.
The Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN) works countywide to reduce disease transmission and prevent new HIV and Hepatitis C infections. This is of vital importance as St. Louis County is a declared outbreak area for HIV. RAAN provides syringe services, free and confidential testing, and support and resources related to medical care for those who test positive.
The First Ladies of the Hillside provide creative, collaborative, local solutions to a Duluth neighborhood of high need, in line with CDC Social Determinants of Health strategies. Their services include Food Forward, delivering prepared meals to residents at no cost. They connect local food and social service systems together and learning skills that empower future career opportunities. Additional initiatives include Cleaning the Hillside, art displays, an Alloparenting program, Coffee in the Hillside, and various others.
Tomanek is a strong advocate for public health. During the pandemic, she led the work to co-sponsor a mask mandate for the city of Duluth and pushing for smart COVID strategies throughout the subsequent waves of the pandemic utilizing strategies available. The resulting mitigation measures helped protect residents, essential workers, visitors and businesses in Duluth and St. Louis County.
The Public Health Achievement Awards are given out as part of National Public Health Week, which is the first full week of April each year. St. Louis County presents these annual awards as a way to highlight the broad role of its Public Health staff, and the importance of the many partners they work with to improve the health of both individuals and larger groups as they seek to create community- or system-wide change.
"Partnership is the fabric of Public Health," said Linnea Mirsch, director of Public Health and Human Services for St. Louis County. "So it is fitting this week that we honor our staff and our partners."
The role of Public Health is continually changing as they identify needs and work to help both individuals one-on-one, and larger groups to create community- or system-wide change. Many of these efforts focus on the broad goal of ensuring that all people have equal opportunity to be healthy. Likewise, much of the work done by Public Health employees is in partnership with other community agencies and professionals.
St. Louis County Public Health is a division of the Public Health and Human Services Department. Public Health nurses, educators, planners, social workers, nutritionists and other staff work through a variety of programs to help pregnant moms deliver healthy babies, and at-risk families to give young children a better chance at positive development. They also help elderly clients maintain independent living, and work with community partners to address factors - such as environment, income and education level, lifestyle and genetics - that affect health and well being. Public Health also plays a key role in disaster preparedness planning. To learn more, call (218) 725-5210 or visit stlouiscounytmn.gov/publichealth.
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