State Health Commissioner Sees Dutchess County Public Health in Action

Visits Preparedness Center, Goes on Restaurant Inspection as part of Statewide Tour Celebrating Public Health Week

POUGHKEEPSIE, April 5, 2007 - New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today toured the Dutchess County 911 Emergency Communications Center and went on a restaurant inspection as part of a statewide public health tour to recognize National Public Health Week in New York State.

Commissioner Daines met with Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Dutchess County Health Commissioner Michael C. Caldwell, M.D., M.P.H., and got a first-hand look at the county's efforts to prepare for a potential public health emergency. He also accompanied a Dutchess County Health Department sanitarian and nutritionist on a visit to a local restaurant as part of the County Health Department's effort to encourage area restaurants to not only meet health and safety standards, but to also consider eliminating the use of harmful trans fats in meal preparation.

"Emergency preparedness and restaurant food safety are just two of many critical public health services that local health departments are providing in New York State," said Dr. Daines. "The Dutchess County Department of Health is hard at work every day to protect and improve the health of local residents."

Commissioner Daines' visit to Dutchess County included a stop at the Wallace Center at the FDR Library, where he attended a special Public Health Week luncheon and presented an award to a county public health professional for outstanding work to improve maternal and child health. Jamie Farrell-Lizotte, Supervising Public Health Nurse of the Dutchess County Department of Health, was named the recipient of the State Health Department's first "2007 Public Health Honor Roll Award" for her efforts to implement a new home visiting program that provides positive parenting for new mothers and seeks to improve the health and development of their babies.

Farrell-Lizotte becomes the first recipient of a new statewide Public Health Honor Roll award established as part of the State Health Department's new Public Health Works campaign to highlight the important work of the State's public health workforce.

Dutchess County Health Commissioner Michael Caldwell said, "I am delighted to welcome Dr. Daines as our newly appointed State Health Commissioner and to celebrate Public Health Week with him here in Dutchess County. We value our partnership with the community and with the New York State Department of Health and we are honored that a Dutchess County employee is the first recipient of the New York State Public Health Honor Roll award."

Commissioner Daines, who earlier in the week visited county health departments in Monroe and Albany counties, said he was using Public Health Week to focus attention on the critical role of local health departments in protecting and improving community health. The work of county health departments, he noted, includes water and food safety, disease surveillance and prevention, health education, maternal and child health, environmental health, and public health emergency preparedness.

These efforts, Commissioner Daines said, are strongly supported by Governor Eliot Spitzer, who provided new funding in his Executive Budget for several 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. Governor Spitzer'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.