District partners with businesses for health

LIHUE — Kauai’s District Health Office initiated programs this year that focus on affordable health care, vaccinations, and resident feedback to promote a healthier community.

The Measles, Mumps, Rubella multiple vaccination has been one of its most successful health initiatives for controlling and preventing communicable disease.

With the number of mumps outbreaks increasing statewide for 185 individual cases this year, Kauai reported only two cases since 2015, said district health officer, Janet Berreman, M.D., during the Lihue Business Association meeting Thursday morning.

“The Kauai Department Health Office is here to serve every member of the community,” Berreman said to about 20 people at Duke’s restaurant. “And we can be most successful working in partnership with the community.”

The office staffs about 70 people who operate 20 programs. To be most effective, the district hopes to partner with businesses and community members to identify needs and improve connections between primary care and behavior patterns.

For 2017, Tropic Care helped 4,600 patients with 27,000 procedures at an estimated value of $1,700,000 for medical services. Plans through 2019 include expanding partnerships and building links to ongoing services that focus on those in need, Berreman said.

One such initiative, CASPER (Community Assessment Service Public Emergency Response), has helped with hurricane preparedness. A CASPER resident survey is scheduled Aug. 1.

Public health services include controlling communicable disease, preventing injury, addressing maternal and child wellness, and supporting access to clinical care.

State initiatives also aim to educate about basic food safety and control pests to reduce rat lungworm disease.

Disease prevention remains an important part of the department’s strategic health plan.

“Prevention has a much greater impact than a one-on-one clinical basis,” Berreman said. “Public health looks at the whole community and how we can change conditions in the community to improve the health of all of us.”

Hawaii Department of Health hopes to create a culture of health by enforcing environmental regulations and making data more accessible, according to its strategic plan for 2015-2018.

“Public health initiatives create conditions in our community that make it easy for people to be safe and active,” Berreman said.

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