About the Health Department
The Fairfield Health Department seeks to achieve its mission by providing the following Ten Essential Public Health Services
1. Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems. Through the review of reportable diseases, studying causes of death, and conducting periodic community health assessments the Department learns about the health of the community. The data collected describe the health status of the population and help to identify areas for health improvement, determine factors that contribute to health issues and identify assets and resources that can be mobilized to improve the public’s health.
2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community. The Department conducts timely investigations of suspected or identified health problems in the community. These investigations are necessary to detect the source of the problem, determine those affected and prevent further spread of the problem. Activities include: epidemiological identification of emerging threats; investigation of infectious agents and hazards to human health. Control measures such as quarantine, isolation, movement restrictions, social distancing, work exclusion, direct observation of treatments, immunizations and prophylaxis can all be used to stop the transmission of disease.
3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues. The Department strives to provide the public with accurate and reliable information to protect themselves and their families’ health; about healthy behaviors; and how to prevent particular health risks. Activities include: social marketing, targeted media public communication and providing health information resources to reinforce health promotion messages and programs.
4. Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems. The Health Department cultivates many partnerships through its programs and activities The Department initiates, assists with and participates in several local and regional groups to examine and address a variety of public health problems.
5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts. Written plans, guidelines and policies serve as tools to guide the department and determine its structure and organization. They are a resource for both department staff as well as the public. The Board of Health regularly reviews and approves the departmental policies, guidelines and codes that govern the operation of the department. The Community Health Improvement Plan and the Department’s Strategic Plan provide additional guidance to ensure the department is focusing on efforts to supporting individual and community health improvement.
6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety. Public health laws are important tools for health departments. We promote and protect the public’s health through enforcement of the Connecticut Public Health Code and the Fairfield Public Health Code. These codes provide standards to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness, protect drinking water supplies, prevent the spread of disease, prevent injury and assure timely follow-up of issues. Our five State-licensed Register Sanitarians are law enforcement officials charged with the responsibility with enforcing the public health codes and have the legal authority conduct investigations, apply for and execute search warrants and apply for arrest warrants. Non-compliant cases can be referred to state prosecutors to compel compliance. Those failing to comply with Public Health Code violations can be criminally charged with either Class C or D Criminal Misdemeanors which carry both fines and jail sentences.
7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable. The Department works to increase access to necessary healthcare services, as well as to providing free or reduced-cost healthcare and preventative health services such as sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, adult and pediatric immunizations, physicals, dental screenings and dental care. Department staff consistently works to connect residents with the insurance program and services available to meet their health needs.
8. Assure competent public health and health care workforce. Maintaining a competent, well-trained workforce is critical to every Public Health Department. Of the Department’s 57 staff, 52 maintain a professional licensure in their field and many maintain multiple certifications and licenses. Staff regularly attends trainings both in-house and continuing education to maintain their licensure and advance their knowledge base. The Department could not fulfill its mission to the public without the talent, skills, enthusiasm and dedication of its staff. In addition, the Department coordinates one of the largest volunteer bodies in the town and the state with the 350+ member Medical Reserve Corps. These volunteers donate numerous hours both in training and responding to the needs of the Town in events such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. The Department also regularly participates in internship programs proctoring interns from various colleges in the area.
9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services. In order to effectively and efficiently improve the public’s health, it is important for any Department to monitor the quality of performance of its programs and other activities. Starting in 2012, and continuing to 2014, the Board of Health and department staff participated in conducting a Community Health Assessment, developed a Community Health Improvement Plan, reviewed the department’s activities and programs and developed a new departmental strategic plan to improve and maintain the quality of service provided. These key elements of our continuous quality improvement process qualify the department to be considered in its effort to become a nationally accredited local public health agency.
10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems. Science is the basis of what we do in public health. We strive to use the best available evidence in making decisions and in ensuring the effectiveness of our programs, policies and codes. We also have a role in developing new evidence and contributing to public health science. The Department regularly participates in various research projects with the goal of increase our understanding of issues and how we respond to them. For example, data from the department’s Diabetes Prevention Program is provided to the CDC’s as a part of the national research targeted at improving diabetes education and prevention in an overall effort to reduce the prevalence of diabetes. Research related to outbreak investigations conducted in Town has been published in national journals, expanding the knowledge base on a variety of public health issues.