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County health official: “Public health plays a vital role in everything we do”

This news story was published on April 2, 2019.
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Public Health: It’s YOUR Health!

By: Kara Ruge, Marketing & Public Information Officer

So what is public health? Many of you have probably asked yourselves this question in the past. Maybe you’ve answered “It’s immunizations.”  You are correct. Maybe you’ve answered “It’s home care.” You are also correct. But have you ever answered “Well, it’s everything from water testing, restaurant inspections, infectious disease investigation, nutrition and fitness, mosquito surveillance, etc.?” My guess is probably not. To make things simple, the correct answer is, public health is YOUR health.

Public health plays a vital role in everything we do, every day. It is the work of promoting and protecting the health of people and the environments they live and work in. Public health professionals work to prevent illnesses and injuries before they happen. This can mean vaccinating people to prevent the spread of disease, or educating people on how to cook and serve food properly, or informing people of the health risks associated with tobacco use. This can also include improving things that impact our health such as housing, education, transportation, access to quality health care, and access to physical activity areas. Public Health also includes educating our youth on making good choices now so they can live the healthiest lives possible.

Public health also develops policies and creates policy change to ensure the health of all people is protected.  For example, laws that promote smoke-free air indoors (and out), and seatbelts. The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health recently developed an ordinance related to how private wells are drilled to eliminate the risk for Arsenic contamination. We have also developed policies related to the operation and management of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and many more!

As public health professionals, we know we are doing our job well when you don’t hear about us. When you hear about public health on the front page of the news, it’s usually because there has been a serious infectious disease case, or a foodborne outbreak, or a disaster. The interesting part about this? That’s how it should be. Public health’s goal is to PREVENT illnesses and injuries before they happen. Therefore, if we can prevent them, you won’t hear about them.

Every day, we strive to protect the public through vaccines, STD/HIV testing, food inspections, tattoo parlor inspections, swimming pool inspections, septic system inspections, mosquito surveillance, groundwater testing, education on chronic diseases, programs to prevent diabetes and other obesity related diseases, tobacco education, and the list goes on and on.

Think about what you do on a normal day. Most of us wake up. Are you waking up in a house free of radon? Public health can test your home for radon to be sure. Next you probably get a shower. How clean is your water? Public health tests for and monitors your private well water. Then you may cook some breakfast. Public health inspects and monitors the facilities that your food (no matter if it’s fresh or processed) comes from. Now, it’s time to head to work. Do you have accessible, safe transportation and routes to work? We work with area law makers to ensure access to good transportation is possible. Once you arrive at work, your business has decided to implement a tobacco policy which saves you from second hand smoke or encourages you to quit smoking due to the inconvenience it would be. At noon you have a meeting with a catered meal. Guess who inspected the food establishment that prepared that meal? You got it! Public health! Overall, how did you feel today? Did you feel ill? Maybe you were vaccinated against many illnesses and diseases so your body was able to fight off the many germs you came in contact with today. You can thank public health (and your strengthened immune system for that). Finally, it’s time to go home. Unfortunately, you pass by a vehicle accident on your way home. Thank goodness for seatbelts! Who do you suppose developed and pushed for seatbelt legislation? You got it! Public health! Thankfully you are now home! Rest easy knowing public health helped take care of you today (and you didn’t even know it)!

Public health is your health. It’s as simple as that. It’s the health of the public and that’s you!

The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health has been serving county residents for over 25 years. We provide over 50 programs and services to the public to ensure they are kept safe and healthy. It is our mission to optimize the health of all people in Cerro Gordo County – that means YOU! We are here to be a resource for you. Know us before you need us!

For more information on how the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health can be of assistance to you, contact us at 641-421-9300 or visit

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18 Responses to County health official: “Public health plays a vital role in everything we do”

  1. Tired Citizen Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    I think you missed the intent of the story Mr. Stop Blowing Your Own Horn. It’s National Public Health Week and it sounds like the health department was just trying to increase awareness about public health and the services they can offer. It’s too bad you feel the need to take such a negative spin on such a benign, or shall I say helpful article.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 2, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    This article contains good information that the majority of people may not know. You want transparency in government? This is how it works. Quit bitching and bellyaching and be grateful you can read.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 2, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Don’t hurt your shoulder patting yourself on the back.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 2, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    My god, to read this article, you would think the dept. of public health is the greatest thing in the world. It’s funded by our taxpayer money. The people working there are getting paid by taxpayer money. They’re getting paid to do the job they are doing. Quit bragging and just do your job. What I can’t believe is that you are getting paid to write this crap.

    • Ron Osterholm Reply Report comment

      April 2, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      Do you know the health department’s budget? Probably not damn a##. Only 34 percent of the health department’s budget is tax payer funded. The remaining funding comes from outside sources. The department is one of the best kept economic secret. The health department brings in approximately $3.4 million into the county’s economic system. In addition, the 50 employees spend money in the county and pay property taxes. You may want to meet the health department staff and talk with them. They are very informed and caring. Now lets talk about the great programs the department provides and how they benefit the people of Cerro Gordo. You will see my name. What is your name?

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        April 2, 2019 at 8:47 pm

        They are getting paid to do a job. So just do it and shut up. If they don’t like it, quit and go somewhere else. Hey, if trump can justify closing the border, I am sure you can justify keeping the health dept. Next thing they’ll do after this article will probably ask for pay raises since they “do so much”.

        • Ron Osterholm Reply Report comment

          April 2, 2019 at 9:39 pm

          I am sorry, I did not catch your name. Is that not the question I asked you? I did not ask for a not so educated response. Is this a difficult question?

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 3:13 am

            I think there are a lot of people who perhaps need to know what the County is doing, and the services they offer. For a small county of 44,000, it is surprising what they offer, especially to seniors and shut-ins.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 8:14 am

            My God, Are you really bitching about something that is protecting your health and doing it well? You must be a Dumb Ass Democrat.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 2:02 pm

            Ronny: I don’t put my name down since I worry about crazies like you whom I feel might be a little unstable.
            And I never said I minded that the money is wasted on a health dept. I just have a hard time listening to people blowing their own horn to get attention.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 3:03 pm

            Since when is a public organization making a statement about it’s mission blowing it’s own horn? You must be a product of the Mason City School System as well as being a jerk.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 5:27 pm

            Please…keep coming with the witty come backs. I have always enjoyed self righteous anger and the ability of people who can’t discuss without using personal epithets. It’s fun to see people who get so riled up they feel they have to defend their subject to such lengths. Thank you.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 5:31 pm

            You are welcome. I have never had a problem telling the truth and you are a jerk.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 5:37 pm

            Now, now, settle down and tell me why you called me a jerk. I thought that the ability to discuss subjects in a courteous and civilized manner was the sign of an educated man. I am glad to know that at least I am one.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 6:05 pm

            Being educated doesn’t keep you from being a jerk. Just look at Obama. And, of course you are a classic example of a waste of a perfectly good education.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 10:42 pm

            Being stupid doesn’t excuse your behavior or your rhetoric.

          • Anonymous

            April 3, 2019 at 10:50 pm

            Hmmm, I seemed to have ruffled a number of self righteous feathers with my posts. Oh well, you people are beginning to bore me, so as I no longer find you challenging, I shall take my leave. But be aware, I shall be back with my witty little comments in a little while, so get your persecution complex repartees sharpened up, I am sure you will be needing them again. So until then, back to the online chess games which give me the competition I so sorely require. Till we meet again.

          • Anonymous

            April 4, 2019 at 9:12 am

            Education does not equal intelligence and a jerk like you is living proof of that. You sound just like a certain Greek I know.