Mar 16th, 2023

Local health departments, in general, promote and protect the health of people and the communities where they live and work. Although the public may not always see the work we do, our community is stronger and healthier because of it. Do you know the full scope of our work and how it impacts your lives?

We understand an increasing need for the public to know what their local health department does for them. We find it essential to break down what our team of public health professionals work hard on every day so that everyone in our community can live their healthiest lives.

"The health department is in a lot of ways the most difficult part of county government for a layperson to understand." County Mayor Weston Wamp, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Indeed, we have dozens and dozens of programs and are funded by a combination of local, state and federal dollars. We don't want the complexity of all the work that takes place here to make our services confusing for our community. That's why it's important to lay it clearly out for you. 

Protecting Public Health

Let's start with the basics—we offer services, programs, training, and education in key priority areas. Those are:

  • Environmental Public Health
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Maternal, Child & Family Health
  • Chronic Disease Prevention
  • Community Support

All combined, our efforts strive to protect the county's public health through assessments of health and environmental needs, policy development, community education, prevention, assurance, and evaluation; supported by science, medical, and factual data. Our activities that happen in the background become tangible to you through the services, programs, training, and education that we offer to everyone in Cape Girardeau.

Our job is done best when you participate in our planning. What are the health needs that are most important to you? Keep in mind that with your answers, we can develop the best programs and continuously improve our services so that they make a more meaningful difference in your lives. To make your voice heard, we encourage you to participate in our surveys and assessments such as the Community Health Assessments.

What does this mean for you? Let's dive into our key priority areas.

Environmental Public Health

Reducing harmful exposures so you can be safer

We provide oversight, training, and education to reduce harmful exposure and foster safe and healthy environments that protect communities.

Do you benefit from restaurants that meet permit requirements to ensure that food preparation remains safe for your consumption? Can you use emergency lodging when a natural disaster strikes? Could you find it valuable to test a dwelling for lead to ensure that living there poses no health risks? Our Environmental Public Health professionals meet all these needs and more by working on:

"Health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time" -C. Everett Koop

Communicable Disease Control

Surveillance, investigation, education, and interventions to protect you

We offer services and education, some through designated clinics, to control or prevent and stop the spread of infectious diseases. Most people associate immunizations with their health department. After all, we all benefit from widespread community immunity to diseases such as polio, tetanus, or rubella thanks to vaccines, so we're proud of that work. However, our communicable disease control efforts include much more:

Maternal, Child & Family Health

Support to give families and children their healthiest start in life

We champion women's health. To that end, we have services, programs, and education to support women, mothers and healthy children. Sometimes, the biggest need is simply a compassionate nurse to guide you through a health journey. We're here. Whether it's consultations, testing, annual well women's care exams, education or guidance—we're here to provide:

"A woman's health is her capital" -Harriet Beecher Stowe

In all matters related to women's health, it’s also important to be inclusive of people who have female reproductive organs, but don’t identify as women, as well as those who may not have female sex organs, but experience healthcare issues due to their gender identity. Our services and programs are inclusive—we're here for you too.

Chronic Disease Prevention

Using a community network to help you prevent or manage your chronic disease

We promote training and education about chronic disease management. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, lupus, arthritis, diabetes, COPD, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, we can help you get control of your condition. We provide resources, programs, support and health education through:

Community Support

Strengthening your access to medical, behavioral and community resources so you can get answers

We link the public to medical, behavioral, and community resources when they're needed. We connect you to answers whether it's in State birth records, or through a program that provides a designated case manager to help you navigate through important life options and choices. Our community support includes:

There is a common refrain among our peers that states, “When public health works, we’re invisible.”. While we would argue that our role in protecting your health while informing, educating, and empowering communities should be nothing but visible, we recognize that there is a collective lack of awareness in the full scope of what we do. The pandemic brought intense media coverage about public health; but, by illuminating one space it neglected the whole of what a Local Health Departments does. The more you know us and what we do, the more transparent and honest our conversations can be about how we work to make your lives healthier and safer. It will also make it easier to navigate through all that we have to offer so that you can personally experience the value of your health department.

There are almost 3,000 local public health agencies in the United States (NACCHO). These agencies are typically part of local or state government and are responsible to district boards of health, county boards of commissioners, or mayors and governors (Homeland Security Affairs). But, rest assured that the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center's priority is you—protecting your health and environment and strengthening our beloved community.

We all play a role in collective health. Help us help you and together, we can make Cape Girardeau County a community where the safety and health needs of all people are identified, addressed, and resolved.

Sources: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Homeland Security Affairs, and Health Affairs