Central Valley Health District offers many services to the region – Jamestown Sun

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JAMESTOWN – The Central Valley Health District may be best known for providing immunizations, says Executive Director Kara Falk, but the public health agency serving the area also works behind the scenes in emergency preparedness, environmental health and health promotion activities for the region.

Frank Balak is the regional emergency preparedness and response coordinator for CVHD.

“Our goal is to prepare the community to be prepared for natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes, man-made disasters such as chemical and biological or viral spills,” he said, such as COVID-19.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the US developed point-of-distribution plans where agencies could provide antibiotics to communities of any size within 48 hours, he said.

“A lot of the planning we’ve done before for … distribution points we’ve actually put into play for our response to COVID-19 for both testing and our vaccination processes,” he said.

He said those plans were used during COVID at his Civic Center test sites and flu and vaccine clinics.

During the December ice storm that caused power outages in the area, Balak noted that Red Cross shelters were set up in Medina and Gackle. Falk said CVHD could have provided medical shelters with a higher level of care if needed in that situation.

Other areas of emergency preparedness and response CVHD can assist include flooding, evacuations of facilities such as clinics, long-term care facilities or hospitals including patient tracking; training involving simulated disasters; and firefighter rehabilitation equipment in the event of a fire.

“I work with emergency managers in eight counties on planning and different types of response,” Balak said.

CVHD provides licensing, inspection and education in environmental health programs in eight counties, said Marcie Bata, director of environmental health. They are Barnes, Dickey, Foster, LaMoure, Logan, Mcintosh, Stutsman and Wells.

Provides licensing of water facilities (swimming pools, spas and splash pads); food service facilities including restaurants, bars, school food service and child care facilities; tanning and body art facilities; and septic system installers. It also allows for new installation or repair of existing septic systems.

“Most of the time people don’t know we’re coming to our licensed facilities,” Bata said, noting that they are unannounced inspections.

They use a specific form during inspections to check compliance, along with providing education and answering questions. They follow up on public complaints and also carry out any necessary follow-ups after inspections.

“All of our inspections are open, they can be found on our website (centralvalleyhealth.org),” she said.

Inspections for water facilities, tanning and body art can be obtained by sending a request to CVHD, she said.

“We want the public to know what’s going on in these facilities if they have questions and contact us if they have concerns so we can get out there and provide education because we’re only there potentially once or twice a year .” Bata said “… and they may be doing different things during a holiday season or during the summer months that we don’t necessarily see during our inspections.”

Garbage, burn variance, wells

Bata said environmental health can provide education in areas that include mold; problems such as trash in a neighborhood or abandoned buildings; incineration change assistance in connection with the incineration of old buildings; well testing; and care, maintenance and concerns related to new and old septic systems.

Injury prevention programs

Certified car seat technicians offer free car seat inspections, said Shannon Klatt, director of health promotions. She said state data found 75 percent of car seats are used incorrectly.

CVHD offers free and reduced rates of new car seats to families in need.

“That program is pretty busy,” Klatt said. “We’ve seen a huge increase over the years in people needing safe car seats for their children.”

A child who qualifies for WIC or Medicaid qualifies for a free car seat. CVHD has grant funds to help families who don’t qualify and can’t pay the $40 car seat fee, she said.

CVHD offers free bike helmets to children on Children’s Safety Day and helmet education/fitting at nurseries/daycare centers, she said.

The Cribs for Kids program offers families a free pack and play for any child under the age of 1 along with safe sleep education, Klatt said. There is no income requirement.

Maternal and child health

Klatt said CVHD’s goal is to increase the number of women who breastfeed their babies at 6 months.

Last year, she developed the James Valley Breastfeeding Coalition.

“We work together with community partners like JRMC and other community specialists to help mothers with resources when it comes to breastfeeding,” she said.

Two certified lactation consultants offer free appointments and consultations with mothers to check their baby’s latch, weight feeding, help them measure their breast pump and other assistance.

“We also work with our coalition to develop community spaces where mothers are able to feed their babies,” Klatt said.

Last year, they helped the Jamestown Civic Center develop a maternity room where families can go to nurse their babies, and a mother’s suite was placed in the Harold Newman Arena.

Klatt said lowering barriers is their goal — mothers stop breastfeeding because they have problems, it’s not convenient or they don’t have support.

The Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program provides additional healthy food packages for pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants, and children up to age 5. Families who qualify for Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, or Healthy Step programs qualify for WIC.

The Health Tracks program offers growth and development screening up to age 21 at no cost to those who qualify for Medicaid.

Substance use prevention programs

CVHD offers substance use prevention programs in several areas including tobacco, opioid overdose prevention and underage drinking.

Klatt said CVHD works with the Jamestown Police Department. It has provided ID scanners, which are available for use by bars to help reduce the underage population in bars, as well as support bars in the training of servers responsible for drinks. The police department provides the training.

With opioid overdose prevention, CVHD has free Narcan available to anyone who wants it. Narcan is a reversal drug that helps reverse an opioid and fentanyl overdose, Klatt said.

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