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National Public Health Awareness Week

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The first full week of April is designated as National Public Health Week. During this week, health departments across the country will recognize contributions to public health. The goal here is to improve the health and well-being of Polk County residents.

“Throughout the state and country, no two health departments are alike,” said Nola Aigner, Polk County Health Department. “Each health department has a unique community and population they are trying to serve through programs and services. As populations and communities change and progress, Health Departments are finding new opportunities to develop programs and services.”

At the Polk County Health Department they offer many unique services for residents. One program they offer is the lead-based paint screening program.

“Lead-based paint can cause children under age 6 permanent brain damage along with other health issues,” said Aigner. “Two-thirds of our community’s houses were built before 1978, which was when lead-based paint was banned.”

Individuals who live in a house with original paint from before 1978 and a child living there under the age of 6 can get the interior or exterior of their house renovated if the house has identified lead hazards such as peeling and chipping paint

“During 2014-2015, we were able to renovate 69 interior and exterior of houses in Polk and Dallas counties,” said Aigner. “One hundred fifty additional children are now able to live in lead-safe housing.”

Another issues they will focus on is Breast cancer screening. The Polk County Healthy Women Program helps women to receive these screening through private foundation, state and federal grants.

“One in seven women in Iowa risk being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime,” said Aigner. ”Unfortunately, there are women in our community that are unable to pay for mammograms and other life-saving health screenings.”

During 2014-2015, the helped women 1,136 access mammograms and other screenings.

100 percent of those women who were diagnosed with breast, cervical or cervical pre-cancer received treatment and case management.

One service that always remains incredibly busy is their immunization clinic. Whether you are young or old, making sure you are up to date on your immunizations is important to you and individuals around you.

The Polk Co. Vaccines for Children Program provides free immunizations to children under the age 19 who might not otherwise be vaccinated due to the inability to pay. Children are also eligible for this program based on ethnicity and medical coverage.

Our childhood immunization nurse and clinic staff immunized 2890 children in Polk County and 93 percent of those qualified for those children qualified for the Vaccines for Children program.

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