Public health shares annual numbers

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


Houston County Public Health Director Deb Rock, and several staff members, presented an annual report to the Houston County Board March 26.

Part of the group’s efforts include enhancing communication with the board and public so that all constituents can benefit from and understand the comprehensive services the department offers.

The presentation was well timed as April 1-7 marks National Public Health Week. Rock said this year’s theme is “Return on investment.”

“Public health is a good return on investment – it saves lives and it saves money,” Rock said.

The report divides public health services into eight categories:

• Family and child health nursing

• Home health care

• Long-term care

• Disease prevention and control

• Environmental health

• Emergency preparedness

• Health promotion

• Administration

Each category was broken down and numbers were provided to shed light on the volume of services extended over the year.

“As we put this all together, I think it was eye opening for the staff to see,” Rock said.

“It’s nice to see the actual numbers,” Commissioner Teresa Walter said.


Family and child health nursing

Family and child health program services are intended to strengthen and preserve the health of individuals and families in Houston County. The focus is on support, prevention and education to promote and maintain a high level of wellness.

It includes:

• Family and child health visiting services – 331 visits made

• Car seat education – 81 contacts made

• Infant follow-along program – 192 children served

• WIC nutrition program – 280 participants per month average


Home health care

The home health care program is designed for persons of any age experiencing disease or disability and includes nursing, therapy, home health aid and homemaking services.

It includes:

• Home health care nurse – 1,611 visits made

• Case management – 732 visits made

• Home health aide – 7,725 visits made

• Therapy services – 459 visits made


Long term care

As the lead agency for Alternative Care Program (ACP) and Elderly Waiver (EW), Houston County Public Health was responsible for long-term care consultation activities, administration of waivered service programs designed to assist individuals age 65 or older live at home or in other community-based settings and case management services for ACP, EW, Community Well and nursing home clients.

It includes:

• Care consultation for Secure Blue and UCare members – 189 conducted

• Personal care attendant assessments – 37 conducted


Disease prevention and control

This program emphasizes the reduction and/or elimination of disease and disability through a focus on services that detect, control or prevent communicable diseases, especially those that are vaccine preventable.

It includes:

• Immunization program – 833 individuals vaccinated

• Disease investigation and follow-up – two cases of latent tuberculosis


Environmental health

Environmental health is an integral part of Minnesota’s public health system. The division works on many environmental issues, including natural and man-made disasters, air and water quality, chemical and radiological exposures, foodborne disease outbreaks and other health safety issues.

It includes:

• In 2012 Houston County Public Health, along with numerous state and local government agencies, worked together to assess and abate a clandestine drug lab in Caledonia.

• Houston County Public Health contracted with an independent entomologist to address mosquito-borne disease control.

• Well testing – 51 wells tested


Emergency preparedness

Throughout 2012 health educator Heather Myhre coordinated efforts to update the agency’s emergency response plan.


Health promotion

Health promotion activities seek to increase public awareness of health risks and health resources with the goal of decreasing the incidence of chronic illness and disability.

It includes:

• Nutrition and healthy eating

• Physical activity

• Worksite wellness

• Preconception health

• Traffic safety

• Bullying prevention

• Radon kits – 44 distributed



Oversight of Houston County Public Health is conducted by Rock, who coordinates and consults with not only her staff, but other entities as well.

There are several joint efforts with Fillmore County, and Houston County is a clinical site for numerous nursing programs in the area. In 2012, 22 student nurses achieved approximately 380 hours of clinical experience.

For more information about Hsouton County Public Health, visit or call 507-725-5810.