National Public Health Week: Valerie Eldridge, Nassau County Healthy Start

3535. NPHW webIn honor of National Public Health Week, please join us in celebrating all of our wonderful partners who work every day to improve our communities! The theme of NPHW this year is to become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by year 2030. 

Valerie Eldridge is the Healthy Start Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County and alum of our National Health Corps Florida program. She shares in this guest post the role her organization plays in building a healthy community in Northeast Florida!

Invisible Threads Are the Strongest Ties

Reindeer Run 3 12.6.15Public health is about connections, particularly in the core public health area of maternal and infant health. The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County (FDOH Nassau) Healthy Start program weaves an integral web between healthcare providers, local agencies and community members. This network supports moms, babies and their families and addresses their physical, mental and social well-being — a truly holistic approach.

During National Public Health Week 2016 (April 4-10), FDOH Nassau expresses appreciation, that together, with our community partners, we have made great strides to improve overall public health. According to Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, MD, MPH, Director, FDOH Nassau:

“Many factors affect the health of a community, but it is working together that we can make a difference. Florida Department of Health in Nassau County appreciates the long partnerships with the many residents, community groups and organizations that work together and constantly strive help to make Nassau County a healthier place to live.”

healthy_start_2015 (119 of 120)To ensure a quality network of support for their clients, Healthy Start staff maintains professional relationships with local providers. This essential collaboration allows clients to receive medical care, health education and support all in one location. Partnerships with local agencies help clients to receive referrals for a variety of services. These partnerships also result in donations of time and goods to the program for bi-annual client events. Strong partnerships enable clients to receive the most appropriate, unduplicated services quickly and efficiently and allow staff to identify potential gaps in services available. Veteran employee BJ Owens is one of the only certified car seat technicians in Nassau County and is dedicated to providing car seat installation checks through a partnership with Safe Kids Northeast Florida. In 2015 alone, she provided thirty-eight checks!

The keystone of the Nassau County Healthy Start program is the passionate, driven staff. Their desire to serve their clients with the utmost respect and their dedication to providing the highest quality services is obvious. Staff members recognize the power of listening. Through this seemingly simple action, they are able not only to maintain strong connections with the people they serve, but to also learn from them as well.

Kimberly Thomas, a longtime Healthy Start staff member, says this is the favorite part of her job. She states that she enjoys the personal connection with her clients and that she is humbled to be welcomed into their homes and into their lives. These qualities do not go unnoticed and clients continually provide positive feedback on the educational and supportive services that they receive, citing invisible threads, the support, the compassion and the kindness, as the most valuable service that they receive.