In celebration of National Nurses Week, May 6 through May 12, please join the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department in honoring our public health nurses for their year-round commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our community.
National Nurses Week is also an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the ways our public health nurses significantly impact the quality of life we enjoy in our county. Services provided by our public health nurses are essential for a healthy community, and a healthy community benefits everyone.
Applying their extensive knowledge, experience and skills in a variety of settings, our public health nurses provide health care services in the home, within clinics, community facilities, institutions and public events. Bear in mind that public health nurses advocate not just for the individual patient, but for the whole neighborhood.
Some of the ways in which our public health nurses work to keep San Luis Obispo County healthy include:
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Year-round pediatric and adult immunization clinics, travel immunizations and seasonal flu vaccine clinics;
Screening, treatment and follow-up for communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, salmonella, STDs, HIV and hepatitis B and C;
Cancer screening for women as well as pap smears and clinical breast exams;
Health care for those in jail;
Emergency response planning and training;
Tobacco education, prevention and cessation assistance;
Obesity education and prevention;
Reproductive counseling, exams, birth control education and STD screening;
Community programs to prevent teenage pregnancy and support teen parents;
Parenting information regarding teen pregnancy, low birth weight and failure-to-thrive babies, tobacco, drug or alcohol exposure to mother or baby and possible birth defects;
In-home visits to eligible parents, family members or friends involved in a child’s care; and
Child health and development screenings, nutritional guidance and health education.
More than ever, our public health nurses deserve recognition and honor as they encounter increased challenges to their commitment to deliver essential health care services to the people of this county. Unfortunately, due to the fiscal constraints of a shrinking budget, we have reduced the number of public health nurse positions at a time when the need for their services is rising.
Though we have all asked even more from our public health nurses, these dedicated women and men have risen to the challenge and continue to provide quality health care services.
Please consider celebrating National Nurses Week with a public or private acknowledgement and expression of appreciation for the valuable contribution public health nurses make in the well-being of individuals, families and our community every single day.
Dr. Penny Borenstein is San Luis Obispo County’s health officer.