Master's Culminating Experience
The local public health department is the main entity in cities and counties established to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of its community members. In many cases, particularly in rural areas, the health department may be the community’s closest access to health care, providing not only clinical care, but preventive services as well. These rural health departments have additional challenges that may not be experienced in the larger, more populated metropolitan areas. These challenges include lack of resources and funding that impact daily operations, expanded registered sanitarian responsibilities, and emergency preparedness difficulties with resource allocation and communication. Despite these challenges, it is of great benefit to study the overall operations of small health departments, including case studies of their emergency preparedness response plans, noting their unique strengths and how they overcome these hurdles to remain effective entities devoted to public protection and safety. This manuscript will describe an overview of the key sections in a rural local health department. Further, it will then focus on two case studies in emergency preparedness, providing an overview of a small rural health department’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in dealing with the H1N1 Influenza pandemic of 2009, and a West Central Ohio Regional Table Top Exercise of Ebola Virus Disease.
Harris Graessle, C. L. Strengths and Challenges of a Rural Ohio Public Health Department: Considerations for Effective Service Delivery and Emergency Preparedness Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
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