State Health Commissioner Daines Kicks Off Public Health Week

Conducts First Tour of Local Health Departments - Unveils Public Health Works! Web Page

ALBANY – March 30, 2007 – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., will celebrate April 2-8 as National Public Health Week in New York State with a tour of three county health departments to highlight the efforts of local public health agencies in providing disease prevention and public health protection to communities across the state.

The theme for New York State's observance of Public Health Week is the important role that New York's public health workforce plays in protecting the public's health. There are 58 local health departments in New York State and an estimated 13,000 local public health employees, including public health nurses, sanitarians, health educators, and epidemiologists. An additional 6,580 employees work for the New York State Department of Health.

In observance of National Public Health Week Dr. Daines will visit Monroe, Albany and Dutchess counties, where local health officials and workers will accompany him on field visits to highlight local efforts in the areas of childhood lead poisoning prevention, sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment, home visits to promote prenatal and postpartum health, public health emergency preparedness, and restaurant food safety and nutrition.

"Today we join with our local public health partners to recognize their important role in providing health education and meeting critical public health needs that are not addressed through the traditional health care system," said Commissioner Daines. "Public Health Week is an opportunity to put a public face to the work of thousands of local and state public health professionals who are working to make our communities healthy and safe."

Dr. Daines noted that the work of county health departments includes water and food safety, disease surveillance and prevention, health education, maternal and child health, environmental health, and public health emergency preparedness.

In support of his effort to make New York the "healthiest state in the nation," Governor Spitzer provided new funding in his Executive Budget to support critical public health initiatives, including the prevention of childhood lead poisoning; expanded access to a new cervical cancer vaccine; expanded public health nurse prenatal and postpartum home visits; obesity surveillance and prevention; and health promotion and education on prevention and healthy living.

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all deaths are linked to unhealthy behavior and unsafe environments, including smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet, physical inactivity, and exposure to toxic substances such as lead, pesticides and air pollution. The Governor's new Healthy Living, Healthy Environment Agenda is a multi-year effort to focus more attention and resources on efforts to improve the health status of New Yorkers through increased emphasis on prevention and education.

Commissioner Daines' visits to county health departments include:

Monday, April 2 – Dr. Daines will accompany environmental health workers from the Monroe County Health Department on an inspection of lead abatement measures to protect children from lead poisoning. At 11 a.m., he will participate in a press conference with Monroe County Health Commissioner Andrew Doniger; he will visit a county STD clinic in the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 3 – Dr. Daines will visit the Albany County Health Department, where he will meet with Albany County Health Commissioner James Crucetti, M.D., M.P.H., and other public health workers. He will accompany a public health nurse and nutritionist on a home visit designed to promote postpartum health and infant health.

Thursday, April 5 – Dr. Daines will visit Dutchess County Health Department, where he will meet with Dutchess County Health Commissioner Michael Caldwell, M.D., M.P.H., and other public health workers. He will tour the county emergency preparedness center and meet with health educators and restaurant food inspectors.

As part of National Public Health Week observance, Dr. Daines will also unveil a new Web-based "Public Health Works! Honor Roll" that salutes outstanding public health employees from each local health department for exceptional work in promoting and protecting the health of New Yorkers. A Web page featuring Public Health Week and "The Public Health Works! Honor Roll" is featured on the Department's Web site at www.health.ny.gov.

Joan Facelle, M.D., M.P.H., Rockland County Commissioner of Health and President of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), said:

"NYSACHO applauds Commissioner Daines and Governor Spitzer for their recognition of the vital role that local health departments play in promoting health and safety in all our communities."

Mary Applegate, MD, Interim Dean of the University at Albany School of Public Health said, "The UAlbany School of Public Health is delighted that the Department is

celebrating Public Health Week by recognizing the key role that a strong, well-trained public health workforce plays in achieving the goal of improving health for all New Yorkers."

For more information on Public Health Week and public health careers please visit the Department's Web site at www.health.ny.gov.