Communicable disease investigations and preventions was topic at Tuesday’s Iroquois County Board Health Committee meeting.
Led by Iroquois County Public Health officials, and nurses, Dee Schippert and Vonda Pruitt, the duo explained the process from the public health side.
First off, Schippert said, health care professionals who know of someone who has a communicable disease must report it. Most reports are now coming from laboratories, she said. All states are linked through a national system.
This system has a lot of personal information; there are only four people within the health department who have access to it, she said.
“Each disease has its own steps and regulations used in investigations,” she said.
Pruitt said public health nurses will call a physician to ask the physician to talk to the patient, first.
Then, the public health official will talk with the patient to try to find out the contacts, food history, or recent travels, whatever is relevant to the specific disease, she said.
Schippert said it’s their job to “seek any information to control or mitigate the disease”. If the patient is noncompliant then court orders can be sought.
“Most people are cooperative. They don’t want to make people sick.”
It’s about prevention and control. She said the health care staff will go over everything from proper hand washing to the communicative period.
Schippert addressed the safety of the staff. “We only send nurses. They know how to protect themselves.”
There’s a lot of communicable disease, but there’s not a lot around here. “We do a good job protecting people. People forget there are all these diseases out there because we’re protecting them.”
Schippert also told the board she expects the ICPHD Board of Health to continue to allow free water sampling kits. She said, “Water is so important. We have to protect our aquifers.” Initially, the public health department was giving kits out because of the floods, making sure flooding matters were affecting the drinking water supplies. Since, she said, kits are still being returned with bad results. “We want people to test,” she said, so corrective matters can be done.
Finally, Schippert told the board a replacement for Terry Eimen’s position as LEHP has been found in Ryan Wheeler, who is from Kankakee County. Eimen retired last month after many years in the environmental health position.