Health News and Event Calendar

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Public Health Infomation

LCHD provides information on public health issues and public health functions through multiple methods to a variety of audiences. LCHD actively seeks opportunites for two-way communication with the public to drive innovation and inform public health planning.

News and Press Releases


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/15/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: Monday, July 15: Hanover Township and Lazy River Campground, Tuesday, July 16: Harrison Township and Tamarack Rd (Newark), Village of Granville, McPeek Lodge, and Stublyn Road, and Thursday, July 18: Village of Kirkersville, Harbor Hills subdivision, Buckeye Lake KOA campground. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/11/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) is hosting a human trafficking and mandatory reporting training to Licking County professionals who are mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. The training will take place on Thursday, August 8th at the Pataskala Police Department, located at 623 W. Broad St., in Pataskala from 8:00 am to 12:00 Noon. LCHD received a grant from United Way of Licking County’s affinity group, Women United, to provide the human trafficking and mandatory reporting training. Anyone can be a victim of trafficking anywhere, including in the United States. Speakers for this free training are from Licking County Job and Family Services and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. To learn more and/or to attend this free training, please contact LCHD Health Educator, Mary Richardson at (740) 349-6951 or by email at mrichardson@lickingcohealth.org. Registration is required due to limited space. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/10/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition reported eight crash fatalities in the county during the second quarter of 2019, April 1st to June 30th. Of the eight fatalities in the second quarter, two of the crashes involved drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and two involved motorcycles. During the same time frame in 2018, there were three fatalities. This is an increase of five fatalities in the county. “Impaired driving, whether from drugs or alcohol, is an issue that continues to impact Licking County drivers. It’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or any potentially impairing drug. These include those prescribed or over the counter,” said Jon Kraus, Safe Communities Coordinator at LCHD. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/09/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – You're invited to Licking County Health Department's 15th annual Kickin' Ash Splash Pool Party on Saturday, July 27, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Heath City Water Park! This family-friendly "night-swim" encourages active and healthy lifestyles free from tobacco and aims to teach families of Licking County how to incorporate healthy foods and physical activities into their lifestyles by providing healthy snacks, games and giveaways. Entrance to the water park on July 28 after 5:30 p.m. will be at a reduced cost of $2 per person. Members of Heath City Water Park can attend this event free. The Heath City Water Park is located at 1287 Hebron Road in Heath and will be fully operational for this evening of family-friendly fun. More...
OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/08/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Access to Care Committee is offering a Question and Answer (Q and A) Event on Getting Access to Health Insurance. Learn how to enroll in a Medicaid Managed Care Plan or other health insurance plans, how to use your benefits, how to find a doctor on your plan, and more. The open-house-style event will be held on Thursday, July 25 at The Main Place, located at 112 South 3rd Street in Newark, from 10 am to 2 pm. Plan representatives will present information to individuals who receive Medicaid or other public assistance insurance benefits. The Access To Care committee understands that many Medicaid Managed Care plan recipients who are covered by health insurance are still unsure what medications or care services are covered, or how to find a doctor for preventative screenings. Uninsured and Under-Insured people can also find out how to get enrolled in a Medicaid plan. LCHD’s Access to Health Care Q and A Session will help individuals get their health care questions answered and assist them in signing up for insurance if needed. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/02/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/24/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: Tuesday, July 2: Village of St. Louisville, Village of Granville, Village of Kirkersville, Buckeye Lake KOA, Tamarack Rd (Newark), and Harbor Hills subdivision, and Wednesday, July 3: Perry Township. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/01/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department's (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition reminds you to plan for a sober way home this Fourth of July if you plan on drinking. Law enforcement in Licking County is taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign during the Fourth of July holiday period to put an end to drunk driving. In support of law enforcement’s dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, you’ll see increased enforcement on the roads with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/24/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: -Tuesday, June 25: Monroe Township, Village of Alexandria, and Tamarack Rd (Newark), Wednesday, June 26: City of Pataskala and Foundation Park, Thursday, June 27: Buckeye Lake KOA Campground, Village of Kirkersville, Ramp Creek Mobile Home Park, and Harbor Hills. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/17/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. LCHD sprays to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: Monday, June 17: Etna Township, Tuesday, June 18: Tamarack Road and Park Trails Subdivision in Newark, and Thursday, June 20: Buckeye Lake KOA Campground, Village of Kirkersville, and Harbor Hills. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/13/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) is engaging with residents about environmental factors that impact their health and safety in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes topics like water quality, built environment, disease, food safety, recreation and more. The Licking County "PACE-EH" project is a community-based environmental health assessment that will engage communities to explore the broad physical and social environments that impact health and safety. The project is funded through a grant from the Unrestricted Fund of the Licking County Foundation. Community feedback is being gathered through two avenues: an online survey and a series of focus group meetings throughout Licking County. The survey can be found here, and takes around 10 minutes to complete. Survey responses are anonymous and the demographics collected will only be used to ensure all communities in Licking County are represented. The survey was created by a steering committee consisting of members from local health and safety professions. LCHD will hold six Focus Group meetings as part of the project. This allows residents to voice their opinions in more detail and provide insight on how to best combat the major environmental health concerns facing the county. Focus group meeting information is listed below and are being held in Newark, Johnstown, Pataskala, Hanover, Utica, and Hebron within June and July. No registration is required, please join LCHD for conversation and refreshments - plus the first 20 individuals at each location will receive a $10 gas gift card for their time and thoughts. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/11/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: -Tuesday, June 11: Village of Alexandria, Tamarack Road in Newark, and Buckeye Avenue in Newark, -Thursday, June 13: Buckeye Lake KOA Campground, Village of Kirkersville, Ramp Creek Mobile Park, and Harbor Hills. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/04/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/03/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: -Wednesday, June 5: Village of Granville, Stublyn Lane and McPeek Lodge (Granville), and Harbor Hill Subdivision (Thornville) -Thursday, June 6: Buckeye Lake KOA Campground and Village of Kirkersville More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/29/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) practices an integrated pest management approach to mosquito control. This includes trapping for adults, dipping for larvae, treating standing water with larvicide, draining breeding sites when possible, and spraying to kill adult mosquitoes when needed. Mosquito spraying occurs with weather permitting during dusk hours from an LCHD marked vehicle. This week's mosquito spraying schedule includes: -Thursday, May 30: Ramp Creek Mobile Home Park in Heath, Buckeye Lake KOA Campground, and Village of Kirkersville. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/29/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD), as part of the Licking County River Round Up Committee, congratulates the 2019 Poster Contest Winners from Licking County schools. The winning posters reflect water pollution awareness and encourage volunteer participation in the annual River Round Up water clean-up event. Each year, volunteers remove over 1,500 pounds of trash, 700 pounds of recyclable materials and about 400 tires from the Licking River and its tributaries during the River Round Up event. Emma Reamer, senior at Granville High School, won the Grand Prize title in the poster contest (her artwork can be seen above). She received a $100 cash prize and her school received a $500 check for use to advance science and art programs. In addition, Emma's winning piece will be displayed as the primary marketing image in the 2019 River Round Up on September 7. Honorable Mention prizes were awarded Andrew Lane, an 8th grader at Blessed Sacrament School and Addison Mead, 3rd grader at Johnstown Elementary School. Both schools received a $250 check toward science and art education. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/22/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department's (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition recently conducted a "Click it or Ticket" seat belt contest between three local high schools - Newark High School, Licking Valley High School, and Watkins Memorial High School. The campaign and prize were granted by State Farm Insurance. During selected dates in May, seat belt checks were given at each high school by Troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, LCHD's Safe Communities Coalition, Sheriff Deputies from the Licking County Sheriff's Office, and local State Farm Agents Erin Curtis and Amanda Erwine. Licking Valley High School won the seatbelt contest with 92 percent of their students being buckled up on their way to school during the check time! Newark High School had 85 percent of their students buckled up and Watkins Memorial had 81 percent of their students buckled up. The current Licking County seat belt usage for all ages is 86.4 percent. Licking Valley High School's SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club received the $300 award during their Senior Assembly on May 21. The prize was funded through a community grant from State Farm Insurance. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/20/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Worksite Wellness Workgroup awarded two Licking County Companies for their outstanding wellness initiatives at the 2019 Licking County Safety Council Annual Awards Luncheon on May 14. The Licking County Library and Licking Memorial Health Systems were recognized for their commitment and strategy to create a culture of wellness and improve employee well-being. Business are categorized by size, small, medium and large, to ensure a fair comparison of their size and resources. The library was awarded in the medium business category and the hospital was awarded in the large business category. Small businesses were also encouraged to apply. Each application was scored on a point system. This was the 3rd year for the Worksite Wellness Award. The application included various questions including worksite programs, benefits, and written policies and guidelines. All businesses with any type of wellness programming were encouraged to apply. This award application can also be used as a blueprint for companies looking to start or improve their wellness program. The companies were notified of their award after the annual Worksite Wellness Workshop on April 12th. Both companies showed a consistent and energetic effort towards improving employee wellness and well-being in the application. Each company demonstrated their own unique way of leveraging company resources to implement programs at their worksites including monthly wellness bingo challenges and an employee wellness center to name a few. Leadership involvement and employee participation also helped these companies score higher in their specified categories. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/06/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – On Saturday, June 1, the Licking County Health Department (LCHD) invites Licking County residents to our Change Gears | Ride a Bike event. LCHD staff will be on-site at three check-in locations in Licking County from 8:00 am until 12 Noon. This free community bike ride welcomes families, individuals and children to ride on Licking County bike trails. The event is an open ride, so you may choose your own distance and pace. Free helmets and healthy snacks will be available at all three locations. Ride in and visit us at three check-in locations! Newark: at the Newark campus of Central Ohio Technical College and the Ohio State University at Newark – near Warner Center parking lot. Johnstown: at the west end of the T.J. Evans Trail, on Jersey Street. Hanover: at Marne United Methodist Church. (Most family friendly location with less traffic and level terrain.) Youth can practice their bike skills in a bike rodeo at the Newark and Hanover locations. All bike riders are asked to wear a helmet during the rodeo and the ride. Bike repair services will not be available. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/01/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/26/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) invites Licking County women to our annual Women’s Health Fair event on Thursday, May 9, at the Licking County Family YMCA (Mitchell Center) from 3 to 6 p.m. Explore local resources available to all Licking County women and their families. Learn about health screenings, immunizations, car seat installations, tobacco cessation and more! Plus, win prize drawings and enjoy free refreshments!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/24/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – Is it time for your annual Mammogram? LCHD’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP) Mobile Mammography Unit is coming to Newark on Friday, May 10 to Moundbuilders General Dentistry, located at 1634 W. Church Street.
Call BCCP at (866) 418-4963 to schedule your 20-minute mammogram. All women ages 21 to 64 are eligible for BCCP Patient Navigation Services and may also be eligible for BCCP financial assistance. BCCP aims to increase breast and cervical cancer screenings for all women by providing education, access to services through screenings, and increase HPV vaccination rates in Central Ohio. Call (866) 418-4963 to learn more. More...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/16/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department's Safe Communities Coalition urges all teenagers to be safe this Prom and Graduation season by planning ahead and making good choices. The coalition encourages parents to make tough decisions and talk to their teens about making life-saving choices when it comes to their Prom and Graduation activities. Young drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. Young drivers are also more likely to not wear their seat belts and drive drowsy, putting them at an even higher risk for getting in a car crash and having serious injuries. “Teens deserve to celebrate their accomplishments and share in their excitement for the future,” said Jon Kraus, Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coordinator. “But we want to make sure they make good choices. Safe, smart decisions help teens experience their futures to the fullest potential.” More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/12/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition reports six traffic fatalities during the first quarter of 2019, January 1 through March 31, in Licking County. Of the six fatalities, two of the crashes involved drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and two involved motorists not wearing their seat belts. During the same time frame in 2018, there were three fatalities. This is an increase of three fatalities in the county. “An issue for Licking County drivers that continues to be a concern is the occurrence of crashes involving an impaired driver. It is important to remember impaired driving is not just limited to alcohol. Drugs, whether prescribed or not, can influence your driving ability,” said Jon Kraus, Safe Communities Coordinator at LCHD. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/10/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program is working to improve bicycle infrastructure in downtown Newark. CHC is partnering with the City of Newark Engineers and the Licking County Area Transportation Study to assess the current biking infrastructures’ strengths and opportunities. A bike friendly community welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and quality of life. Help us make downtown Newark bike friendly by filling out this quick survey. We will use your feedback to assess how the future of Newark can improve its pathways and roads for safer and easier bicycle use, all while improving your health. Your responses are anonymous and confidential. Thanks for your input on making Newark a more bike friendly city! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/03/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) is participating in National Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27 in partnership with the Newark Police Department, the Licking County Sheriff's Office and support from Mental Health and Recovery of Licking and Knox Counties. Take advantage of a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs during Rx Collect Drug Take-Back Day, offered at three locations in Licking County. On Saturday, April 27, from 10 am to 2 pm, visit one of the following locations with your unused or expired prescription drugs in a clear, plastic bag for safe disposal: Newark Kroger Marketplace; 1155 North 21st St., Newark Newark CVS - E. Main; 379 E. Main St., Newark Pataskala Kroger; 350 E. Broad St., Pataskala Residents should empty the contents of prescription pill bottles into a clear plastic bag and take the bag to the nearest drop off location. No questions are asked, and confidentiality remains a priority. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/04/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) and Trek Brewing Company are partnering for a fundraising event on Thursday, April 18 where $1 from every pint sold benefits LCHD's Screening & Survivor Support (SASS) for Breast Cancer program. The event is being held at Trek Brewing Company, located at 1486 Granville Rd., in Newark, from 5 to 9 pm on Thursday, April 18. In 2018, SASS helped provide 22 Licking County women with mammograms, two of which also received other diagnostic testing, and gave 16 stipends totaling $8,000 to Licking County women diagnosed with breast cancer. LCHD's SASS program also collaborates with a local breast cancer survivor to provide a social support group for women in Licking County who are going through or have gone through breast cancer, called Kindred Spirits. Join us on April 18 as we "Trek Together" to fight breast cancer! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/02/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) invites the public to attend an Ohio Historical Marker Dedication on April 15, 2019 at 2:00 pm at the Price Road Campus at 675 Price Road in Newark. The historical marker commemorates the Licking County Tuberculosis Sanatorium, now home to the health department. State historical markers stand as a valuable and important means of presenting Ohio history to the public, and they encourage community interest in state and local history. With support from the Ohio History Connection, LCHD has sponsored the marker to commemorate the rich history of our building. The ceremony will feature remarks by Licking County Health Commissioner Joe Ebel as well as Stephanie McManus from the Ohio History Connection. Following the unveiling of the new marker, visitors are invited to attend a small reception in the lobby to learn more about the history of the building. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/02/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/27/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – Licking County Wellness Coalition Members: Your spring newsletter has arrived! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/20/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) has released its 2018 Annual Report and 2018 Communicable Disease Report. Licking County Health Commissioner Joe Ebel said, "2018 continued to pose many of the same public health challenges Licking County has seen in the past - high smoking rates, poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity; combined with mounting problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, vaping among teens, and growing health inequity. LCHD is committed to continue working to create an environment where better health can flourish, improving opportunities for all residents to achieve their optimal health." In addition to an Annual Report, LCHD published its 2018 Communicable Disease Report. Health department nursing, environmental, and epidemiology staff conduct disease surveillance, prevent disease, and investigate outbreaks. In 2018, LCHD responded to four outbreaks and tracked 1,421 reportable diseases through the Ohio Disease Reporting System. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/14/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – Register now to join the Licking County Health Department's Wellness Coalition for their annual Worksite Wellness Workshop on Friday, April 12, 2019 at The Grove by the River in Newark. The event welcomes human resources administrators, worksite wellness coordinators and wellness committee members to learn ways to jump start a wellness initiative or improve an existing wellness program. The workshop allows time to network and learn from other Licking County businesses as well as time to complete the application for the 2nd annual Licking County Worksite Wellness Award. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/13/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County District Advisory Council (DAC) will meet on Monday, March 18, 2019, Noon to 1 p.m. at the Licking County Health Department - 675 Price Rd. in Newark. The meeting will include the election of Chairman and Secretary of the District Advisory Council, re-appointment/appointment of two Licking County Board of Health Members to the expired terms - representing Township and Village seats, and a Board of Health presentation of the 2018 Annual Report. If no quorum, then an executive committee will be formed. The health district advisory council consist of the president of the board of county commissioners, the chief executive of each municipal corporation not constituting a city health district, and the chairperson of the board of township trustees of each township. The board of county commissioners, the legislative body of a municipal corporation, and the board of township trustees of a township may select an alternate from among themselves to serve if the president, the chief executive, or the chairperson is unable to attend any meeting of the district advisory council. When attending a meeting on behalf of a council member, the alternate may vote on any matter on which the member is authorized to vote. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/13/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – During St. Patrick's Day festivities, the Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition is working to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving. Even one drink can be one too many. If you’re heading out for Irish festivities, plan ahead and remember Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. Tragically, March 17 has become a dangerous holiday on our nation’s roads. According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, more than one-third (37%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18, 2017 proved the most dangerous. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m., 75% of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2013 to 2017, over one-third (35%) of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations well above the .08 limit. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/04/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/01/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department's (LCHD) Worksite Wellness Workgroup is accepting nominations for the 2019 Worksite Wellness Award. The Worksite Wellness Award recognizes Licking County companies that demonstrate a commitment to employee health and well-being. Members of the Licking County Worksite Wellness Workgroup will score applications and select one winner in each category based on company size: Small Company = 1-20 employees, Medium Company = 21 – 99 employees, Large Company = 100+ employees. The nomination application includes various questions including worksite programs, benefits, and written policies and guidelines. All businesses with any type of wellness programing are encouraged to apply. This award application can also be used as a blueprint for companies looking to start or improve their wellness program. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/25/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) is teaming up with Granville Christian Academy and Safe Kids Ohio for a free Child Car Seat Safety Check on Tuesday, March 26 at Granville Christian Academy – located at 1820 Newark Granville Rd, in Granville. Stop by anytime from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a free child car seat safety check or installation by one of our Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for kids ages 1 through 12. In 2010, on average, 325 children under the age of 12 were injured in motor vehicle crashes every day. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent! Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will assist in installation of a child’s car seat for free. You are welcome to bring along your child whose car seat you are getting checked. There is no RSVP for this event. Service is available anytime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. So please, come and get your car seat checked at the Granville Christian Academy to help keep your kids safe. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/11/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – Save the date to join the Licking County Health Department's Wellness Coalition at our annual Worksite Wellness Workshop on Friday, April 12, 2019 at The Grove by the River in Newark. Event registration coming soon! The event welcomes human resources administrators, worksite wellness coordinators and wellness committee members to learn ways to jump start a wellness initiative or improve an existing wellness program. The workshop allows time to network and learn from other Licking County businesses as well as time to complete the application for the 2nd annual Licking County Worksite Wellness Award. SHRM and HCRI recertification credits are available for HR professionals. This workshop counts as one meeting attendance toward the Licking County Safety Council credit. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/05/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/31/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department's (LCHD) Board of Health has named Sean Grady, Director of Licking County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as the 2018 Public Health Guardian Award recipient. The award recognizes an individual, agency or program that has made a significant contribution to the promotion and protection of public health in Licking County. “Sean has been an exceptional public health advocate, integrating public health preparedness and emergency response into the county’s all hazard plan, and has help build relationships through planning and exercises that enhance our ability to respond when a crisis occurs.” said Joe Ebel, Licking County Health Commissioner. Sean has been in the Emergency Management field for the past 10 years after having a successful career in the Fire and Security Industry for over 20 years. He has been both the Director and Deputy Director of the Sandwich MA Emergency Management Agency and the Logistics Section Chief for the City of Boston - Office of Emergency Management. He taught in higher education at two colleges in Boston for 10 years and guest-lectured in the Mass Maritime graduate program. Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said, "The Licking County Commissioners are proud of the work Sean does and the fact that he is being recognized by the Health District and being called a Guardian. It is all about collaboration and serving the 172 thousand people of Licking County." Sean is originally from St. Clairsville, Ohio and lived in the Boston area for 25 years before returning to Ohio in late 2014 to become the Director at Licking County EMA. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/28/2018 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – As Super Bowl LIII quickly approaches, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition to remind football fans that designated drivers are the best defense against the dangers of drunk driving. The Super Bowl is a festive night in homes and bars across America, but if your night involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. We want to remind everyone, Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. “The Super Bowl should be a fun night of entertainment with friends and family. We want our community to plan safe rides home if they plan to be out at a party,” said Jon Kraus, LCHD’s Safe Communities Coordinator. “Even one drink can impair judgement. You should never put yourself, or others, at risk because you made the choice to drink and drive. For most, just one drink can be one too many.” Safety should be your number one priority. When it’s time to leave the party, make sure your designated driver is completely sober. If he or she decided to drink: call a cab, use the SaferRide app, call someone else who you know hasn’t been drinking, or use a ridesharing app. Walking impaired can also be dangerous, so designate a sober friend to walk home with you if needed. When driving, remember sober driving isn’t the only law that should be followed. Make sure you and your driver wear your seat belts. It’s your best defense in a crash. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/22/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) along with the Licking County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) are informing Licking County residents about upcoming weather and how to prepare. The National Weather Service is forecasting warmer temperatures in Central Ohio tomorrow (Wednesday, January 23) - reaching into the 40s F. A high of 43 degrees F is expected at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon and then chilling to 24 degrees F overnight into Thursday morning. With warmer temperatures and additional precipitation, be aware of potential flooding in the area - especially around your home and in roadways. Existing ice and snow will be melting in addition to the rain. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/09/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) reminds Licking County residents to test their homes for radon – it’s easy, inexpensive and could prevent you and your family from the dangerous health risks associated with high levels of radon. Licking County historically has the highest radon levels in Ohio. Tests performed by Licking County homeowners indicated nearly three out of four homes have radon levels above the recommended action level. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It can not be detected by sight, smell or taste. Because radon is a gas, it can easily drift upward through the ground to the Earth’s surface – and could enter the lowest level of a building. Exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. Though harmful, radon is relatively easy to control. Testing is the only way to find out if radon is in your home. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) estimates that one-half of Ohio homes have radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 4 picoCuries/liter (4 pCi/l) of air. To request a free radon testing kit from the Licking County Health Department through ODH's Radon Program, visit www.lickingcohealth.org or call (740) 349-6535. Alternatively, you may purchase a low-cost ($10 to $25) radon test kit from a local home improvement store. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/07/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department’s (LCHD) Safe Communities Coalition reports eight traffic fatalities during the fourth quarter of 2018, October 1 through December 31, in Licking County. Of the eight fatalities, two involved drivers not wearing their seatbelt, and another involved a motorist who tested positive for drugs. During this time last year, there were also eight reported fatal crashes. “A recent concern for Licking County is the occurrence of crashes involving a driver under the influence of drugs,” said Jon Kraus, Safe Communities Coordinator at LCHD. In just the last five months, two out of the ten total fatal crashes involved motorists who tested positive for illegal drugs. In one case, the driver was estimated to be going 80-90 mph. More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/04/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – See what's happening this month at LCHD! More...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/03/2019 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – The Licking County Health Department (LCHD) encourages participation in Licking County Soil and Water Conversation District's (LCSWCD) River Round Up Poster Contest. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2019 and the winning individual receives $100 cash with an additional $500 in scholarship money! The River Round Up Poster Contest is open to all school-aged youth in primary, secondary schools (public, private, and home school; K-12) or school-aged youth living in Licking County. Posters should reflect water pollution awareness and encourage volunteer participation in the River Round Up. Prizes will be awarded to students and their respective schools. The winning individual will receive $100 in prize money and winner’s school will receive a $500 scholarship to use for advancing science and art programs. Up to two honorable mentions will receive a $250 scholarship each for their school. The grand prize also includes having the winning poster used as the primary electronic marketing picture for the 2019 River Round Up. All entries will be displayed on the River Round Up Facebook page. Winning posters will be displayed at a River Round Up registration site on Saturday, September 7, 2019. More...

Calendar of Events

Health Commissioner Editorials


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Over the past few years we have been hearing a lot about Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), but most people are not aware of the impact that HABs have had on the public drinking water systems and recreational areas across Ohio. Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) are microscopic organisms found naturally in surface water that can sometimes multiply to form harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are “harmful” because they can produce toxins capable of causing illness or irritation, liver damage, and sometimes even death, in pets, livestock and humans. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus that enter lakes and streams can feed these algae and promote rapid growth, or blooms. These nutrients typically come from runoff of over-fertilized farm fields and lawns, from malfunctioning septic systems, and manure run-off from livestock operations. More...
The movement to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21-years-old is gaining momentum in Ohio and nationally. The Tobacco-21 policy has been around for a while, with 475 cities and counties, and 14 states, raising their tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21 in recent years. In Ohio at least 22 local cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, and one county, have passed Tobacco-21 ordinances. Currently, Licking County does not have any Tobacco-21 ordinances, although discussions have begun in both Newark and Granville. Governor DeWine included a Tobacco-21 provision in his executive budget proposal. The policy was not included in the House budget version, and the Senate is currently drafting their budget proposal. If not addressed in the budget bill, the legislation may be introduced in a separate bill by proponents in the legislature. The U.S. Senate has introduced a national Tobacco-21 proposal as well. More...
Measles cases are on the rise across the globe, including the U.S., where the virus was declared eliminated in 2000. Why is measles making a comeback? In some hard-hit countries, it is due to war, civil unrest, or other barriers to preventive healthcare access. But in the U.S., it is spreading due to unvaccinated international travelers who become infected and return to their communities and infect other unvaccinated people. Measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing, and it is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. More...
Each year the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report is released. The rankings are a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with a goal of improving health outcomes for all and closing the health gaps between those with the most and least opportunities for good health. Last year the Licking County Health Department released a life expectancy map of Licking County which highlighted the health disparities between our residents based on where they are born, with some areas experiencing nearly fifteen years less life expectancy than residents born in other parts of the county. The Health Rankings and Roadmaps takes a similar approach in comparing the health status of counties based on Health Outcomes and Health Factors. For 2019, Licking County was ranked 25th out of Ohio’s 88 counties for Health Outcomes, and 19th in Health Factors. These results are up from 32nd and 29th in the 2018 report, respectively. More...
During its February 19th meeting, the Licking County Board of Health voted to not allow the establishment of a syringe exchange program (SEP) in the county. Under Ohio law, a SEP may only operate legally if established by the board of health in that locality. ORC 3707.57 Bloodborne infectious disease prevention programs. “A board of health may establish a bloodborne infectious disease prevention program. The cost of the program is the responsibility of the board of health. A board of health that establishes a bloodborne infectious disease prevention program shall determine the manner in which the program is operated and the individuals who are eligible to participate. “ The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognize SEPs as effective tools to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis in communities with significant injection drug use. In Ohio, the CDC identified 11 counties that were in the top 220 counties vulnerable to experiencing or at-risk of outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV due to injection drug use. Those counties were Brown, Adams, Scioto, Clinton, Highland, Pike, Gallia, Athens, Vinton, Jackson, and Meigs – all Appalachian counties. There are currently 19 counties in Ohio served by SEPs. The other 69, or 78%, of counties, including Licking, do not have SEPs operating in their communities. Last year the Ohio Department of Health asked for, and the CDC granted, a state-wide determination of need to allow federal funds to be used to support SEPs in the state. However, the state law remains unchanged, and the decision about implementing SEPs is still up to the local communities. More...
Last summer the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A. Outbreaks in neighboring states had begun to spread into Ohio, although Licking County had not seen any unusual activity at that time. In 2019 we already have more cases reported than in all of 2018, so the outbreak has reached Licking County. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex. Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to severe illness lasting several months.More...
Governor Mike DeWine has established a Home Visiting Advisory Committee that is charged with analyzing the current situation and making recommendations for change that will result in tripling the number of families currently served by state funded home visiting programs. This is largely in response to Ohio’s abysmal infant mortality rates. Each year approximately 1,000 infants in Ohio die before they reach their first birthday. Ohio’s rate of 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births is tied with Georgia for 8th worst in the country. The average U.S. infant mortality rate is 5.8 per 1,000. Most shocking is the racial disparity, with black infants in Ohio dying at three times the rate as white infants. In Licking County during 2018 we had 10 infants who died before their first birthday, for a rate of 5.0 per 1,000, although our three-year average remains high at 7.3 per 1,000. The leading causes of infant death in Ohio are prematurity (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), birth defects, obstetric conditions, external injury and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Improvements in early prenatal care and making sure families have the information and resources they need to get a healthy start can help reduce many infant mortality risk factors.More...
The holidays are over, it’s dark by the time you get home from work, and it’s cold and dreary outside. These factors can contribute to negative mental and physical health impacts from increased depression, seasonal affective disorder, reduced physical activity, more screen time, less time outdoors, increased snacking, and weight gain. In January, health clubs and fitness centers are packed with well-intentioned people trying to lose those holiday pounds or reach a new year’s resolution to get into shape, but by March many have given up on their lofty goals. While fitness centers are a great fit for many people, making changes in diet and lifestyle have longer lasting impacts for most of us. But take heart, now that we are into a new year, the days are actually starting to get longer. Moving from only 9 hours and 21 minutes of daylight at the end of December toward our peak of 15 hours in mid-June. The change is only a couple of minutes a day, but small changes add up to brighter days. We can follow the same model that by adopting small changes, a lasting foundation of healthy choices can be maintained all year long. Some winter-time wellness ideas:More...
Sharing a meal with family and friends is an important part of celebrating this time of year. Unfortunately, a foodborne illness can ruin your holidays faster than getting a lump of coal in your stocking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million (1 in 6) people in the United States get sick from a foodborne illness. Of those, 128,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die. Foods can become contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins during production, transportation, preparation, or service. The recent outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce is an example of a food becoming contaminated during production. Raw meats are often contaminated during processing, but thorough cooking usually destroys those germs. Because lettuce is eaten raw, and simple rinsing of the lettuce is not an adequate way to remove all the contaminants, the CDC advised discarding any romaine lettuce. It is much more common that food becomes contaminated during preparation. This includes food prepared at home and in restaurants.More...
One of the consequences of the opioid epidemic is an increase in bloodborne infectious disease rates associated with using and sharing dirty needles to inject heroin and other drugs. In 2015, the Ohio legislature authorized boards of health in each county to establish a “Bloodborne Infectious Disease Prevention Program” – more commonly known as syringe or needle exchange programs. Licking County, like most of Ohio, has seen increased transition to the injection of illicit drugs as tighter regulations and the closure of “pill mills” have made access to prescription opioids more difficult. Injection of drugs increases the likelihood of fatal overdose and provides opportunities for injection site and bloodborne infections to spread. The most common bloodborne infection is Hepatitis C with rates that have tripled over the past 10 years. Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the blood-borne Hepatitis C virus. For some people, Hepatitis C is a short-term illness but for most, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection that can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. More...
Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health, that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Updated data released from the U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP) illustrates health disparities in Licking County, where there is up to a 14.9-year difference in life expectancy for a child born today across different communities within the county. Many of our communities have life expectancies below Ohio’s average of 77.9 years, and well below the national average of 79.1 years. The highest life expectancy for a census tract within the county is 84.3 years and the lowest is 69.4 years. Two-thirds of Licking County census tracts have life expectancies below the state average. Race or ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location all contribute to an individual’s ability to achieve good health. In Licking County, our greatest health disparities are tied to areas that are home to large numbers of lower-income residents. Many of those residents are living in rental housing, lack reliable transportation, have lower graduation rates, higher smoking rates, less access to healthy food options, and other factors that contribute to this disparity. The Licking County Health Department is using this new USALEEP data to drive discussions about improving health equity. Health equity is the principle underlying a commitment to reduce or eliminate disparities in health and in its determinants, including social determinants. Pursuing health equity means striving for the highest possible standard of health for all people and giving special attention to the needs of those at greatest risk of poor health, based on social conditions. More...
Stigma can be defined as a mark of disgrace or shame associated with a particular circumstance or person. For addicted people and those in recovery, and more generally, those with any type of substance abuse or mental health disorder, stereotyping leads to prejudice, discrimination, fear, shame, distrust, and creates additional barriers to treatment and recovery. Addiction-related stigma not only impacts the person hurting from addiction, but also causes pain for family members, employers, and friends surrounding that individual. It can also create additional barriers that prevents a person from seeking the support that they need. The behavior of stigma often leads the public to believe that addiction is not a treatable health condition. Therefore, funding toward treatment or harm reduction strategies is frequently cut short. Those who are uninformed or uneducated about addiction may think that drug users have a personal weakness or moral failing which led them to make poor choices, or that they simply lack the willpower or the moral fiber to choose to stop using their drug. More...
Growing up, I always was active. I lived in Bucyrus until I was nine and living in town made it easy to be active where I could ride my bike, play with neighbors, and walk to school. In fourth grade we moved into the country, 10 miles from town, and my activities changed to playing in the woods or the creek, fishing, hunting, exploring the outdoors, and playing school sports. As an adult, I spend my day behind a desk and drive to work, so being active is just not part of my daily routine. Being active used to come naturally, but now it’s something I have to think about, make time for, and work at. This challenge is all too familiar to most Ohio adults, and unfortunately, many of our children also spend their days behind a desk, on a couch, or staring at a screen, instead of exploring, playing, and engaging in physical activities. More...
The U.S. Surgeon General released its first report of the Advisory Committee on Smoking in Health in 1964, which identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Despite significant progress since that first Surgeon General’s report, issued over 50 years ago, smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and Licking County is no exception. We now know that in the United States, smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, 32 percent of coronary heart disease deaths, and 79 percent of all cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One out of three cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Smoking causes colorectal and liver cancer and increases the failure rate of treatment for all cancers. Smoking also causes diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and immune system weakness, and increases the risk for tuberculosis disease and death, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and impaired fertility, cleft lip and cleft palates in babies of women who smoke during early pregnancy, erectile dysfunction, and age-related macular degeneration. More...
We had unusually warm temperatures in May, and now that June is here, we are well into the growing season. That means it’s a great time to visit one of Licking County’s farmers markets. By mid-June, vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, beans, and squash are all in season. Even sweet corn, peppers, and tomatoes are starting to ripen. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and cherries ripen in June, with peaches, raspberries, and apples close behind. Eating fresh, locally grown produce is a healthy option in many ways. It supports local farmers and helps preserve farmland. Eliminating the middle-man and buying direct from producers saves money and stimulates our local economy. Supporting local farmers promotes sustainability and reduces transportation and storage costs. More...
During the recent Addiction Forum, co-hosted by the Newark Advocate, participants from many local public and non-profit agencies, recovering addicts, family members impacted by addiction, and other concerned residents, met to discuss the impacts, causes, and solutions to Licking County’s addiction crisis. It became clear from the conversations, that while Licking County has an opioid problem, evidenced by the overdose emergency responses and fatalities, opioids are just one drug in a broad spectrum of substances abused. In fact, those suffering from addiction are often using multiple drugs, and opioids like heroin, and especially fentanyl, are what triggers a critical overdose. Other drugs often have similarly devastating outcomes resulting from damage done over years of abuse, or from the consequences of poor decisions made while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. More...
The first week each April is designated as National Public Health Week. We talk about the term “public health,” but the reality is that typically most people have a limited idea of what public health is. Maybe they think of immunizations, or free clinics, or even inspecting restaurants. So much of public health’s work goes unnoticed until there is a disease outbreak or other event. So perhaps the starting point should be “What is public health?” While the health care system provides treatment for sick individuals, the public health system looks at the health of the community and works to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. Health care and public health work as partners, we regularly collaborate, and sometimes provide similar services. Public health focuses on the prevention of communicable diseases, early detection of cancer and other chronic diseases through public awareness and screenings, providing safety net services when needed, reducing injuries and accidental deaths, monitoring disease rates and assessing the community’s health, and helping people obtain their optimal health throughout their lives. More...
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In the United States, and in Licking County, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths that affects both men and women. This type of cancer includes cancer of the colon and rectum. Each year in Licking County, an average of 80 residents are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, with over half of those cases being diagnosed in the late stage, and 30 of those people will die due to colorectal cancer. The good news is that many of those deaths can be avoided by screening and early detection. More...
The number of Lyme Disease cases in Ohio has dramatically risen over the past 15 years. It was not long ago that when an Ohioan was diagnosed with Lyme disease, the automatic assumption was that they had traveled to the east coast states where they got infected. That is no longer the case. In fact, most of Ohio’s counties have reported human Lyme Disease cases over the past 10 years. In 2017, the Licking County Health Department reported 20 cases of local residents diagnosed with Lyme Disease, with the majority of the cases diagnosed in June and July. More...
It’s a new year, and each January many of us resolve to make a positive change in our health behaviors like quitting smoking, losing weight, or exercising. But, most of us will fall short of our goals by March. Those are all great health goals to pursue, and this year I propose that we build a team to help us succeed together. If you are struggling with changing your behaviors to improve your health, chances are you know one or more family member, friend, or co-worker who are facing the same challenges. Team-up with that person, or join an existing group, to work together, provide support, and hold each other accountable. More...
‘Tis the season, flu season, that is! Cold weather and shorter days drive people indoors, and increased social activities like family gatherings and shopping raise the chance of spreading diseases, including the flu. Many people think of the “flu” as any viral illness, from a bad cold to a stomach virus. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness, caused by the influenza virus, that can cause mild to severe illnesses resulting in hospitalization or even death. Some people are more likely to develop severe illness from the flu, especially people 65 years and older, pregnant women, children younger than 5-years-old, and people with certain long-term health conditions like diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease, and heart disease. More...
Environmental Health – it’s probably not what you think. As a core public health discipline, Environmental Health programs focus on preventing disease and creating environments where people can live safe and healthy lives. The term “environmental” leads many people to think these programs focus on protecting the environment. While that is partially true, the key word is “health.” These programs are concerned with addressing the health impact of places and things that surround us, including both the natural and the built environment. Food Safety programs are fundamental public health programs that ensure a safe food supply. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Thorough and frequent inspections combined with food handler education can significantly reduce the risk of foodborne disease outbreaks linked to places where food is prepared and served. More...
Every October we see a flood of pink to support National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sometimes these displays aim to raise funds for breast cancer research and patient or survivor support, other times the pink displays are a subtle reminder to increase breast cancer awareness. What can we do with these pink reminders of breast cancer? Simple things, like encouraging the women in our lives to talk with their doctors about getting mammograms, or sharing the important fact that screenings and early detection can result in successful treatment of breast cancer. Every year, in Licking County, an average of 120 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 24 women will die due to breast cancer. Approximately 70 percent of these cancers will be identified in the early stages of the disease… but we can do better. More...
Prompted by the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the American College of Physicians (ACP) took a position recognizing hate crimes as a public health issue. In its new policy statement, the ACP sees an important role for physicians to educate the public that hate crimes are a public health concern, exacting a toll on the health of those directly victimized and on the health of entire communities. The impacts of hate result in health inequities and disparities that prevent our citizens and communities from achieving optimal health and wellness. When we see reports of attacks motivated by hate in the news, such as mass shootings and other hate-related crimes, it stirs emotions and grabs our attention. And like most public health issues, the number of reported injuries and deaths linked to bigotry, hate and discrimination is just the tip of the iceberg. We know from experience that the vast majority of the damaging health impacts such as depression, hypertension, stress, cardiovascular disease and even death, often hide below the surface of our public consciousness. More...
Studies have shown that social and environmental factors, called “Social Determinants of Health,” have twice the impact on a person’s risk of premature death compared to the quality of their health care system. These Social Determinants of Health include economic stability, neighborhood and physical environment, education, access to healthy food, and community and social supports. So even though health insurance reform has been at the center of political and public debate in recent months, there are other determinants of health beyond health care that impact our health. The Licking County Health Department, along with other national, state, and local public health groups, is advocating for our local and state governments to adopt Health in All Policies initiatives. Often, routine policy and regulatory decisions related to things like housing, transportation, safety, parks, playgrounds, walkability, education, and employment are adopted by local and state governments without viewing them through a public health impact lens. More...
It’s the three words that children fear and parents cheer – Back to School! Whether it’s a kindergartner going to school for the first time, or a teen returning after summer break, parents want them to have a great school year and try to eliminate any barriers that could prevent them from recognizing their full potential. While tasks like back-to-school shopping for clothes, shoes, and school supplies are easy to remember and heavily promoted in ads, making sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date is easy to forget – but far more important. School-aged children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. Making sure that children receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children’s long-term health — as well as the health of friends, classmates, and others in your community. Missing vaccinations may cause the school to exclude your child from classes, especially if there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease in the community. More...
In Licking County, like most communities, we tend to live inside our own bubble. We often look at how we are doing compared to last year, or compared to similar communities in Ohio, but we seldom look outside our borders to assess our performance. Our personal health, as well as the health of our community should be important to everyone. Our health directly correlates with healthcare spending, health insurance costs, workplace productivity, happiness, and life expectancy. In the 2017 County Health Rankings for Ohio, published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Licking County ranked 31st (out of 88) in the state in “Health Outcomes” – a measure of how long people live and how healthy people feel while alive. Additionally, our county ranked 20th in “Health Factors” – a measure of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic, and physical environment factors. A quick look at these rankings may make you wonder why we were low in Health Outcomes, but we would be missing the bigger picture. More...
Licking County, we need to talk. “We need to talk” is almost never a good thing to hear, especially when it comes from someone you are dating. In this case, we need to talk about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). An old foe, gonorrhea, has been on the rise. Chlamydia, another STD, remains the most common communicable disease reported to the Licking County Health Department with 640 cases in 2016, but gonorrhea rates have increased by 26 percent in the past year with 219 reported cases. Gonorrhea can infect men and women and is spread through intimate contact with an infected individual. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious health problems in women and men. A serious public health concern is that gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed for treatment. Fortunately, gonorrhea can still be cured with the right medication. Sexually active women younger than 25 years or women with new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD should be tested every year. Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms. More...
It is well documented that Ohio is experiencing an opiate crisis. Initiatives at the state level as well as locally in Licking County are working to fight opiate and prescription abuse. Those initiatives include combating drug abuse on several fronts which involve law enforcement, public health, addiction and treatment professionals, healthcare providers, educators, parents, and many others. The Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) is a statewide electronic database that stores all controlled substance dispensing information. OARRS is a tool that can be used to address prescription drug diversion and abuse. It serves multiple functions as a patient care tool, an early warning system for drug epidemics, and an investigative tool for drug diversion and insurance fraud. It helps prescribers and pharmacists avoid potentially life-threatening drug interactions as well as identify individuals fraudulently obtaining controlled substances from multiple health care providers, a practice commonly referred to as “doctor shopping.” Thanks, in part, to the expanded use of OARRS, enforcement actions against “pill mills,” and revised prescribing guidelines, the total number of opioid doses dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 162 million doses (or 20.4 percent) from 2012 to 2016. Even with this 20 percent decrease, there were still 631 million doses of opioids prescribed in Ohio during 2016. That equates to 54 doses for every person in Ohio. To learn more about OARRS, please visit pharmacy.ohio.gov. More...
With all the political posturing around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and calls to repeal and replace it, I want to make my position as a public health professional known. Health insurance provides access to health care when needed and provides what any other insurance does, a margin of safety against the economic impacts of an adverse event. And from a public health perspective, health insurance coverage is linked to better health outcomes. Access to screening, preventive care, early diagnosis and treatment, all improve health outcomes while also lowering overall health care costs. Ohio was one of 31 states to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA for individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line, or $16,243 per year. Previously, eligibility had been limited to poor children, parents and the disabled. This expansion resulted in 702,000 new Medicaid expansion enrollees in Ohio. The most common enrollees were unmarried white men with a high-school diploma or less. Forty-three percent of the enrollees were employed, but did not have access to health insurance through their employer. These are the same clients that we struggled to navigate to care before the expansion. More...