What We Do
The Public Health Department works to promote, preserve and protect the health of all San Luis Obispo County residents through disease surveillance, health education, direct services, and health policy development. We provide environmental health services, family health services, promote good health through outreach and programs, provide testing services for a variety of diseases and water quality, oversee County-funded health care services, and manage emergency medical services to provide quality, timely and appropriate delivery of pre-hospital medical care and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program.
What We Did in 2014
Preserving, Protecting Health of All
The Public Health Department expanded many services in 2014 as it continued to promote, preserve and protect the health of all SLO County residents.
By combining improved technology and public health education, the department helped decrease foodborne illness outbreaks in SLO County by 75 percent, compared to the previous year. The Public Health Laboratory expanded molecular testing to include a broad range of gastrointestinal pathogens to better respond to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
Meanwhile, the department’s Environmental Health Services began using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping for SLO County water wells, food establishments, public pools, and hazardous materials facilities to help assist with disease surveillance and other essential services.
In 2014, Public Health was also able to train local field nurses to improve the oral health of SLO County children. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the California Department of Public Health’s Oral Health Program, 12 local field nurses were trained to apply fluoride varnish to children in their homes, as well as conduct dental assessments and provide family education on proper tooth brushing. The program began in June 2014, serving approximately 20 children, with the capacity to serve many more in the coming years.
Additionally, Public Health partnered with a Healthy Eating Active Living San Luis Obispo County (HEAL-SLO) workgroup called Healthy Communities to develop two community health plans that identify health needs and priorities of the Cayucos and Oceano communities. Healthy Communities is an interdisciplinary body that reviews development projects with a health lens to make recommendations to land-use planners.
The community health plans aim to increase walking and biking in Cayucos and establish a park in Oceano to facilitate healthier, active lifestyles. There are no current plans to create Community Health Plans in other areas of the County, but the department may revisit the topic in 2015.
And finally, the County’s Public Health Department helped implement the Affordable Care Act by transitioning more than 3,000 County Medical Services Program clients into full health coverage through Medi-Cal or subsidized insurance via the state’s exchange, Covered California.
However, there are still people who need immediate medical attention, but can’t afford health care coverage or have no way to pay for necessary medical care. Public Health’s Medically Indigent Services Program exists for those SLO County residents.