Story compiled by Kimberly Stringer, DPH Communications

Amazing things are happening in public health across the state. From corner to corner in Georgia, districts are achieving impressive accomplishments of which all of the Department of Public Health should be proud. PHWEEK reached out to the districts to share their top accomplishments from the year and the responses flowed in. Here is just a sampling of the great work that happened this year across Georgia:

1-1 Northwest Health District

  • Twelve of the 16 public school districts in the Northwest Health District have adopted and implemented the CDC’s 100% Tobacco Free Campus School Policy. All hospital’s in the district now have a 100% Tobacco Free Campus Policy, and seven of the 10 county boards of health have adopted a 100% Tobacco Free Campus Policy for their respective health departments.
  • The Northwest Health District WIC office established a unique Breastfeeding Peer Counseling (BFPC) program through which they identify current or former breastfeeding WIC clients meeting certain criteria to work as peer counselors in their county. The program was designed to provide and/or strengthen the often missing or weak support component of the “three legs” to breastfeeding initiation/duration-promotion, education and support. Peer counselors are trained to work in conjunction with the WIC office and WIC staff at the county health departments to promote breastfeeding, educate the public, as well as clients, about the benefits of breastfeeding and market WIC services. The true highlight of the BFPC program is the support peer counselors offer to pregnant and postpartum women. Peer counselors are available to program clients almost 24/7 through in-clinic visits, phone calls or text messaging to provide advice, support and referrals.
  • The Northwest Health District EP team has worked closely and passionately with county-level community partners, specifically, but not limited to, those in emergency management and public safety, to “earn a seat” for public health at the emergency-response table. Tactics included personal networking, volunteering, joint sponsorship of community events, participation in various outreach events and attendance at and active participation in Local Emergency Planning Council meetings, which public health hosts in several of our counties.

1-2 North Georgia Health District

  • Cherokee County Health Immunization Outreach Coordinator Nancy Stackhouse was named the 2012 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for the state of Georgia.
  • The North Georgia Health District’s Cities Readiness Initiative/Strategic National Stockpile Dispensing Plan received a score of 100%.
  • Carol Hendrix, North Georgia Health District WIC breastfeeding coordinator and Theresa Brown, Hamilton Medical Center lactation consultant, will represent the state of Georgia at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee 2012 National Conference in Washington D.C. as a result of their submission “United We Stand: The Importance of Teamwork.” They will present their work as a breakfast table topic during the conference.

3-1 Cobb-Douglas Health District

  • Cobb & Douglas Public Health National Association of City & County Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice submissions were selected as promising and model practices. NACCHO’s Model Practice Program was formed to honor and recognize the accomplishments of outstanding local health practices from and across the nation.
  • CDPH’s Center for Organizational Performance & Strategy Management (OPSM) was awarded a “model” practice status by uniting their Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships (MAPP), Balanced Scorecard, and now, Community Transformation Grant (CTG) under the auspices of their Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) initiative, within the same organizational unit/center.
  • CDPH submitted a Statement of Intent (SOI) to PHAB signaling their plans to begin the accreditation process.

3-3 Clayton County Board of Health

  • Enjoli Jones, Clayton County Board of Health (CCBOH) injury prevention and Safe Kids coordinator, made CCBOH one of 10 agencies in the United States to receive a $25,000 Task Force Grant from Safe Kids USA and FedEx Corporation. This grant is being used to establish a pedestrian crosswalk and new pedestrian crossing lights around the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center in Rex, Ga.
  • In February of this year, CCBOH began administering the Parents as Teachers (PAT) “Born to Learn” curriculum through its home visiting “resource moms” services program, Making Our Mothers Successful (MOMS). This enhancement of home visiting services was made possible by a $156,776.75 Systems of Care (SoC) grant awarded in 2012 to CCBOH and MOMS. MOMS, developed by CCBOH to reduce Clayton County’s infant mortality rate, provides free, in-home counseling, assistance, and education services to women experiencing high-risk pregnancies. PAT has enhanced the existing MOMS services by increasing the number of home visits made to enrolled clients, and increasing the age cutoff for qualifying children receiving services from 1 to 3 years of age. Mothers enrolled in either the MOMS or PAT programs will benefit from greater access to CCBOH family support specialists. Many mothers transitioning from the MOMS program will also be able to qualify for PAT services, providing a greater continuum of care.
  • In 2010, the Clayton County Board of Health (CCBOH) was one of 94 programs out of 1,100 around the country to successfully obtain grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, to address teen pregnancy and the factors that contribute to it. Those dollars helped the CCBOH create Clayton Can Soar to the Top (CCST), a $4.5-million initiative aimed at decreasing the county’s teen pregnancy rates through education, skill-building, and service learning. By partnering with various youth-serving agencies in Clayton County throughout 2011 and 2012, CCST has established 13 Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) Clubs at 10 sites to date.

3-4 Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale Health Departments

  • Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale County Health Departments was the only district in Georgia to receive a National Network of Public Health Institutes Quality Improvement award.
  • The Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale Health Departments, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services and Gwinnett Medical Center, collaborated to initiate Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP). This NACCHO tool helps communities improve health and quality of life through community-wide strategic planning. Using MAPP, communities seek to achieve optimal health by identifying and using their resources wisely, taking into account their unique circumstances and needs, and forming effective partnerships for strategic action.
  • The districts created a community health initiative system for the Gwinnett Medical Center website as tool for Health Status Reporting.

3-5 DeKalb County Board of Health

  • The DeKalb County Board of Health passed smoke-free college campus efforts at three institutes of higher education in DeKalb County.
  • The district developed metro Atlanta’s first county-wide Master Active Living Plan (MALP) in partnership with DeKalb County Government’s Department of Planning. The plan will change the landscape of DeKalb County by promoting access to walking, biking and public transportation nodes creating opportunities for active living.
  • The district stimulated access to fresh farm foods and economic growth by supporting the development of several farmers markets in areas known as “food deserts” in DeKalb County.

4 La Grange Health District

  • District 4 Public Health has been operating a dental clinic in Lamar County for two years. It is open one day a week and the primary focus has been on children 6 months to 21 years of age. In 2012 they were able to extend their service offering to all adults for limited services such as exams, x-rays, simple fillings and simple extractions. In FY12 they saw 167 new patients, of which almost one-third were 4 years old or younger; placed more than 100 fillings and saw pregnant women on Medicaid, as part of the Lamar County Low Birth Weight initiative.
  • During fiscal year 2013, the district will open a public health dental clinic in Heard County, where there is no dentist to provide access for those with unmet dental needs. The clinic will be able to provide services to Medicaid/Peachcare and sliding scale for Heard and the surrounding counties. Like Lamar County, the Heard County dental clinic will be open one day a week.

5-2 North Central Health District

  • The North Central Health District became the fourteenth of the 18 health districts in Georgia to incorporate the Mitchell and McCormack accounting and clinical software package. In addition to changing software, the district has switched to a centralized billing, purchasing, and reporting system. These changes were made in an effort to be more efficient, accurate, and profitable. This has been a major change, but the nurses and business staff have transitioned smoothly.
  • The North Central Health District offered school-based flu vaccine clinics in 12 of their 13 counties during the 2011-2012 flu season. They were able to give more than 14,000 vaccines, which was higher than expected given that they did not begin vaccinating in the schools until November. The district plans to participate in the school-based flu program again this fall and is proud to announce all 13 counties will offer the vaccine. This will be the district’s fifth year of offering flu vaccines in a school setting.
  • The North Central Health District unveiled a campaign to directly target family planning services to teenagers and young adults. The campaign is anchored by two 60-second videos showing the effects of not practicing safe sex while also featuring the benefits of properly planning for a family. The video has aired on local broadcast and cable channels in a 30-second public service announcement. It also will be shown in local movie theaters this summer. A billboard campaign is scheduled to begin this fall using billboards around high schools throughout the 13-county district. The campaign has been featured in many news segments and has been shown in numerous schools, community programs for teens and even churches. The videos can be seen at the NCHD’s YouTube page or directly on the district homepage

7 West Health District

  • In Columbus, the district’s teen clinic co-located back into the health department to better serve the community, while maintaining a separate adolescent health clinic environment.
  • The district’s emergency preparedness program received high marks on their annual Strategic National Stockpile review. The success of this district emergency preparedness plan was a direct reflection of strong community partnerships working together for the good of the citizens they serve.
  • The Safe Kids Columbus Coalition, led by the district, was awarded Best Coalition Coordinator for the United States and was also awarded a Georgia Buckle Up Award by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

8-1 South Health District

  • South Health District launched “Gardens in the Community,” a collaboration between the chronic disease and health promotions program, Lowndes County Partnership for Health and the Health Living Task Force. The goal of this program is to teach the community at large (anyone can participate) about healthy living, preparing food in a healthy way and eating local grown produce and/or growing your own. Currently, there are 85 gardens in Lowndes, Brooks and Berrien Counties, but the group is hoping to expand into other South Georgia counties. Gardens are at after school facilities, schools, nonprofit organizations, churches and individual backyards. The overall goal of this program is to combat obesity.
  • The district designed “Sweet Dreams,” a program designed to combat the high prevalence of diabetes in Ben Hill, Berrien, Cook, and Irwin Counties while also combating obesity. While this program has been in existence for a number of years, it was awarded a new grant and the program has expanded to include a family component. Following the family-oriented model, staff teaches more about eating and preparing healthy foods while managing diabetes. The program also encourages exercise, provides medication management and individual nutritional counseling. They also he