Washtenaw County report details impact of public and environmental health programs

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI — The Washtenaw County Health Department recently released an annual report highlighting its performance and efficacy throughout 2019.

The department’s public and environmental health programs were the focus of the annual report that showed an operating budget of $15,477,536 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.

According to the report, Washtenaw County’s Building Healthy Communities program, which is funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, awarded over $130,000 in grant funding to nine community projects that are helping build foundations for residents to live healthy lifestyles. Funded projects range from an inclusive and accessible bicycling program to a farm share program that provided local produce to families facing food insecurity.

As a result of the Building Healthy Communities award to the Farm at St. Joe’s, 5557 McAuley Drive., Saint Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was able to provide 35 food-insecure families with free local produce every week from July through September, the report found.

The health department was responsible for distributing $110,000 in healthy food and farmers market coupons in 2019, according to the report. Healthy food distributions in partnership with Food Gatherers provided an average of 90 households with free, healthy groceries each month, as well as two extra emergency distributions in February, which is equivalent of over $70,000 worth of food and over 36,000 meals, the report said.

There were 4,445 Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clients each month who spent $208,753 WIC dollars at Washtenaw County stores, the report found. WIC is a federally-funded nutrition program of the United States Department of Agriculture administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, serving low and moderate income women and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Included in the report is a breakdown of the amount of inspections the county performed in 2019, including 6,791 drinking water tests, 309 soil evaluations, 43 body art facility inspections, 311 swimming pool inspections, 97 day care inspections and more than 3,000 restaurant inspections.

Out of the 3,055 restaurants inspected by Washtenaw County in 2019, 5,673 food code violations were cited, 150 food-related complaints were made and 1,051 restaurants received zero critical violations from the health department.

The reach and effectiveness of public and environmental health permit and evaluation programs are detailed throughout the report as well. The county handed out 417 sewage permits, 381 well permits, performed 343 pollution prevention inspections and evaluated or permitted 1,559 onsite wastewater systems.

The health department also highlighted its work with area youth throughout 2019. Washtenaw County Community Mental Health teamed up with the health department in the spring of 2019 to design a campaign addressing community concerns around youth mental health and reducing stigma.

Driven by dozens of community conversations and a survey of 250 residents, using funds allocated from the public safety and mental health millage, the health department developed the #wishyouknew campaign that aims to spark honest and supportive conversations about mental health between youth and adults. The @wishyouknewwashtenaw Instagram page launched in Nov. 2019 and had around 80,000 impressions in its first month.

Washtenaw County listed several examples of service efforts made possible by the 2017 public safety and mental health millage in the 2019 millage impact report.

The report also noted the health department’s significant changes in leadership in 2019, when it appointed a new health officer, deputy health officer, and medical director. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners appointed Jimena Loveluck as health officer in June 2019.

Loveluck has spent her entire career in public health, including as deputy health officer for the health department since 2017. Loveluck worked with former Health Officer Ellen Rabinowitz until Rabinowitz retired in August after decades of public service in Washtenaw County.

“I have seen firsthand the skill and dedication Ellen has brought every day to her work at the health department,” Loveluck said in the report. “We are also fortunate to have a stellar team of public health professionals who work tirelessly to promote health for all in Washtenaw County. I have learned so much from her and look forward to building upon the solid foundation she has established.”

Click the following link to view the full 11 page report.


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