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Breakfast event is planned next Tuesday to thank Crook County health partners

Crook County is gearing up for participation in National Public Health Week, which will focus on a variety of local health accomplishments and future plans.

The annual week devoted to public health takes place April 2-8, and the Crook County Health Department will host a special event as well as promote nationwide health messages each day of the week.

"This year we are a little bit more low key," said Health Department Director Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown. "We are doing a breakfast just to thank our partners."

The breakfast, which is by invitation only, will take place on Tuesday morning of the Public Health Week and feature a buffet and a short program.

"We're celebrating the power of prevention, advocating for healthy and fair policies, sharing strategies for successful partnerships and championing the role of a strong public health system," the invitation states.

Meanwhile, during each day of Public Health Week, the Health Department will promote daily nationwide health-related messages on its Facebook page. Monday will focus on behavioral health and advocating for improved access to mental health and behavioral health services. Tuesday focuses on how to prevent spread of communicable diseases, with special emphasis placed on vaccinating, staying home from work when sick and supporting comprehensive sexual health education in schools.

Wednesday will be devoted to environmental health and reducing the public's collective carbon footprint while protecting natural resources, air water and food. Thursday's focus turns to injury and violence prevention, with emphasis on occupational health and work safety standards. Finally, on Friday health officials will stress "everyone's access to a healthy life" and why "creating the healthiest nation requires a dogged focus on achieving health equity for all." DeLaVergne-Brown said the nationally recognized week gives the local health department an opportunity to promote health and the different successes and challenges in public health.

"We have a diabetes prevention program that we are getting funded through Central Oregon Health Council," she offered as a recent accomplishment in the department. "It is actually going really well."

In addition, the health department is working with the Central Oregon Health Council on the Older Adults Initiative to help care for local senior citizens, and the Perinatal Care Continuum, which focuses on healthy pregnancies.

"We are trying to make sure that all pregnant women are signed up for all kinds of services when they become pregnant," DeLaVergne-Brown said. Since hiring a care coordinator in January 2017, the number of pregnant women seen each month by a doctor in Crook County has increased by 200 to 400 percent.

Mixed with the successes, the health department faces such challenges as limiting teen pregnancies and drunk driving. DeLaVergne-Brown notes that Crook County registered a higher-than-normal number of DUI deaths from 2012-16.

Other goals for the future include an update of the health department's strategic plan as well as updating Crook County's Community Health Assessment.

"This summer, we have the triennial review where the state comes in and evaluates public health programs," DeLaVergne-Brown added. "And through next year, we will be getting reaccredited for public health accreditation."

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