What do we do in your community?

Public Health protects you from health threats, the everyday and the exceptional. Your Local Health Department (LHD) guards multiple fronts to defend you from any health threat, regardless of the source, and works tirelessly to prevent disease outbreaks. Your LHD makes sure the tap water you drink, the restaurant food you eat and the air you breathe are all safe. It’s ready to respond to any health emergency be it bioterrorism, SARS, West Nile Virus or an environmental hazard.

Educates you and your neighbors about health issues. Your LHD gives you information that allows you to make healthy decisions every day, like exercising more, eating right, quitting smoking or simply washing your hands to keep from spreading illness. They provide this information through public forums in your community, public service announcements in the media, programs in schools, health education in homes and clinics, and detailed Web sites. During a public health emergency, your LHD provides important alerts and warnings to protect your health.

Provides healthy solutions for everyone. Your LHD offers the preventive care you need to avoid chronic disease and to help maintain your health. It provides flu shots for the elderly and helps mothers obtain prenatal care that gives their babies a healthy start. Your LHD also helps provide children with regular check-ups, immunizations, and good nutrition to help them grow and learn.

Advances community health. Your LHD plays a vital role in developing new policies and standards that address existing and emerging challenges to your community’s health while enforcing a range of laws intended to keep you safe. Your LHD is constantly working through research and rigorous staff training to maintain its unique expertise and deliver up-to-date, cutting-edge health programs.

The Role of Public Health

Local health departments (LHD’s)protect and improve community well-being by preventing disease, illness and injury and impacting social, economic and environmental factors fundamental to excellent health. Track and investigate health problems and hazards in the community. LHDs gather and analyze data on the community’s health to determine risks and problems. This information drives specific programs and activities designed to control multiple threats: both communicable and chronic diseases; food, water, insect and other vector-born outbreaks; biological, chemical and radiological hazards; and public health disasters.

Prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. As a result of extensive and ongoing preparation, LHDs respond quickly and effectively to disease outbreaks and other public health events they are intensively trained to respond to increases in the incidence of diseases, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism. They coordinate delivery of drugs, supplies, and provisions to victims and populations at risk. They keep the public informed and serve as the network for the community.

Develop, apply and enforce policies, laws and regulations that improve health and ensure safety. Acting on their knowledge about their community, LHDs create data-driven policies to meet health needs and address emerging issues. They help craft sound health policies by providing expertise to local, state and federal decision makers.

Lead efforts to mobilize communities around important health issues. With local and state government agencies, businesses, schools, and the media, LHDs spearhead locally organized health promotion and disease prevention campaigns and projects. LHDs also educate and encourage people to lead healthy lives through community forums; public workshops and presentations; and public service announcements.

Using Science to Protect People

Applying proven, cost-effective methods, health professionals in local health departments prevent disease and avoid unnecessary medical expenditures.

They guard and protect against threats: Investigating disease outbreaks spread through the city’s water supply, hotels, homes and businesses. Inspecting restaurants for safety and cleanliness. Screening pregnant women and children for costly, treatable and preventable diseases.

They provide leadership: Defending against emerging infections. Assuring that scarce flu vaccines reach people most at risk. Promoting health and disease prevention strategies. Advocating for better health through public policy. Empowering people and providing necessary preventive care.

They improve health and safety: Responding first when outbreaks occur. Preventing substance abuse. Examining wild animals for disease. Exterminating mosquitoes, rats and other disease-carrying threats. Checking seniors’ blood pressure. Enforcing health and safety regulations. Providing life-saving vaccines to children.

They share their knowledge: Teaching people about nutrition and exercise. Cooperating with physicians, emergency personnel and hospitals. Training new professionals. Evaluating programs. Educating communities to help prevent diseases like HIV.

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Helpful Links


Health Policy Institute of Ohio –  Health Value Resources – The  2017 Health Value Dashboard found that Ohio ranks 46 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia on health value, landing in the bottom quartile. This means that Ohioans are living less healthy lives and we spend more on health care than people in most other states. Included in the tools which can be be used to help improve health value in Ohio are these:

Health Equity

Center for Community Solutions: Majority of Ohioans living in deep poverty don’t receive cash assistance: Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) in Ohio

A guide for Rural Health Care Collaboration and Coordination – The new resource was created by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and the Health Centers program at the Health Resources and Services Administration.  It discusses how rural providers can work together to identify health needs in their communities, create partnerships to address those needs, and develop a “community-minded” approach to health care.  The guide illustrates through case studies how providers in two communities created networks and partnerships to improve the efficiency of care, optimize resources, and improve the lives of their residents.  Click here for the guide.


US GAO report on lead in school water (  released this week (7/17/2018) found almost 60% of schools surveyed had not tested at the tap for lead or did not know if testing had been done. Of those that tested, nearly 40% found lead levels in tap water exceeded EPA’s outdated action levels of 15 ppb lead (for water suppliers) or 20 ppb lead (for schools on municipal water systems). GAO called on EPA to improve its guidance and assistance to states and schools, in cooperation with CDC and ED. EPA has a new FY 18 Approps of $20M to award states to help schools test at the tap for lead (EPA has not issued the RFP to states yet). In context, it is a step ahead, but $20++M is what it cost NYS public schools to test at the tap for lead in 2016. EPA’s authorization is for $20M a year for five years, of $100M. If states follow the NYS example, that is sufficient to test taps in 25% of the nation’s 100,000 public schools.


Additional Resources