Greenwich Health Dept Director Shares Update for National Public Health Week

By Caroline Baisley, Director, Greenwich Health Department

National Public Health Week is celebrated each year in the month of April. It offers a time to reflect on what public health workers do to keep their communities safe and healthy. Over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic public health workers around the world have demonstrated their ability to respond to a public health crisis of great magnitude.

They have given of themselves unselfishly to care for others, and have managed their communities’ outbreaks day and night by controlling the number of COVID-19 cases through contract tracing and patient monitoring, and by assisting individuals, families, agencies and organizations with personal safety, quarantine and isolation measures.

They worked behind the scenes to keep their routine organizational duties on target, along with keeping all the newly implemented COVID-19 operations and protocols moving forward. Public health workers were and are the caring, compassionate, and well-informed voices for those recovering from COVID-19 disease at home, and they were often the voices of calm and comfort supporting those who were scared and living alone.

Public health workers secured resources for people in need, and when that was not possible, they took it upon themselves to provide some essentials like food to eat and basic care supplies.

Public Health workers helped contain pandemic spread by vaccinating the public, which also included the elderly, homebound, eligible young adults and essential town workers; they did this by teaching the public in many settings about effective infection control and the proper use of PPE. They organized, managed and delivered vaccines through weekly on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics and they worked with our Greenwich Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) and GEMS to provide this essential service.

Health department phone lines exploded and the public was surprised to have calls returned well into the night by Health Department staff and leadership.

Public health workers partnered with other community health care providers to deliver vaccinations to nursing homes, senior living facilities and eligible school children. They distributed state medical supplies to healthcare providers in the community and they assisted the Town in distributing COVID-19 home testing kits that were supplied by the State.

These are but a few examples of how public health workers carried out their duties and commitments throughout the past 5 waves of the COVID-19 pandemic; all the while trying to keep up with their routine work activities that protect the public’s health every day. The “Essential Services of Public Health” are services public health departments are mandated to provide and they are aptly named ( ).

These functions are carried out so routinely and expertly by public health professionals that the public scarcely realize they are being done. Public health at work is often invisible until a crisis emerges.

After more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started (January 20, 2020) public health workers continue to deliver the same level of dedicated services to the public.

Battling the emotional and physical toll left in the wake of fighting back the ceaseless and ever-changing virus has taken its toll on many working in public health and in the public health system.

During this year’s celebration of National Public Health Week let’s take a moment to praise our public health workers for a job well done.