Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

Health Department Sees Numerous Health Challenges in 2011

A record heat wave, emergency preparedness training and the on-going responsibilities of preventing public health risks, promoting excellent public health practices and protecting the health of the community were part of 2011 for the Marion County Public Health Department. For the more than 800 health department employees, it was a year of successes.

From July 8 through August 3, Indianapolis wilted under record heat and humidity, leading to a week-long emergency heat declaration. The health department served as the lead agency in coordinating community services, including cooling centers, an information call center and constantly assessing potential community resources. Lessons learned from the 2011 heat wave will help the health department and its community partners be even more prepared for future public health risks.

The health department also held an emergency preparedness exercise simulating how to administer medications in a drive-thru setting. The exercise has real-life implications if, in the unlikely case, a major emergency health event would occur. Through the simulation, the health department was able to successfully test its ability to quickly establish a temporary site to distribute medication and related information.

There were other highlights throughout the year, including:

  • Environmental Safety Control and Management removed more than 10 million pounds of trash from more than 400 properties.
  • Community-Based Care made more than 17,000 home visits and 7,000 phone encounters.
  • Covering Kids and Families served more than 13,000 during the annual Back to School event that included distributing more than 4,000 back packs.
  • The Food and Consumer Safety program performed more than 19,300 food inspections of the more than 4,600 licensed food establishments in the county.
  • The Healthy Families program made more than 6,000 home visits during the year.
  • Legacy House, a community resource serving those impacted by violence and trauma, assisted more than 3,500 clients this year.
  • The Lead Safe and Healthy Homes program performed more than 1,00 risk and healthy homes assessments.
  • The Substance Use Outreach Services program tested more than 2,800 individuals.
  • The Future Promises program, which assists pregnant and parenting teens, served more than 150 students this past year.
  • More than 4,400 public pool inspections were conducted by members of the Water Quality and Hazardous Materials Department.
  • The ACTION Health Center for adolescents provided primary health care to more than 4,500 clients, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Even with all of these accomplishments, there is much public health work to do. Marion County is in the midst of flu season and anyone 6 months of age and older should have a flu shot, available now from the health department.

Indianapolis will host the Super Bowl in 2012 and the Marion County Public Health Department will be involved with a variety of responsibilities, including all food inspections during the event and supporting a major health fair that will be part of activities leading up to the game.