Briefly describe your work and its relation to public health.
I have been with the Scott County Health Department for twelve years with the last three as the Environmental Health Coordinator and the previous nine as an Environmental Health Specialist. The nine years prior to coming to Iowa I was an Environmental Health Specialist at health departments in Illinois and Georgia. Our Environmental Health service protects the health of Scott County citizens by inspecting and enforcing state and local codes regarding restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, swimming pools, onsite sewage systems, water wells, grants to counties, tanning facilities, tattoo artists, childhood lead poisoning prevention program, transient non-community water systems, solid waste haulers, septic tank pumpers, and public health nuisances. We are also involved with mosquito surveillance and the SHL water well sampling project.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Working with staff to solve the problems that seem to come in daily is most rewarding. We do our best to help everyone that contacts us with a problem. Sometimes we have the authority to do so, and other times we do not. In these cases, we try to put the citizen in touch with another agency or association that can help.
What led you to this career?
I had a friend in college who was in the Environmental Health program and he convinced me to change majors. While I intended to go into the private sector, the Georgia Department of Public Health was the only environmental health employer who didn’t require several years of experience. As most all of IPHA’s members would agree, once you get into public health it is difficult to leave it.
What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for public health in Iowa in the next two years?
Where to start? Funding, opioids, water quality, workforce... The list can go on for a while.
What role do you think IPHA could play in meeting those opportunities?
IPHA can continue to be the voice for public health in Iowa by taking the lead role in trying to influence policy and by continuing to work with our fellow public health agencies and associations in Iowa. We have had our most success when the Legislature hears the same message from many different public health groups. We just have to remember that it is a marathon and not a sprint.