Local health departments mark National Public Health Week - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Local health departments mark National Public Health Week

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Today marks the start of National Public Health Awareness Week, but how much do you really know about your own health department? What services do they provide? What programs do they offer that could benefit you? 

Health departments around the Bay Area are on a mission to make sure you know all they have to offer, and in Polk County officials say there's lots you likely don't know.
Community Health Planner Colleen Mangan wonders if you knew there's a countywide initiative called Building a Healthier Polk which is designed to combat a recent national ranking that put the Lakeland Winter Haven area among the top ten fattest metro areas in the country. 

"Our tag line, our message, our call to action is a habit today equals a lifestyle tomorrow. What habit can you tackle today? Is it a 10 minute walk after dinner with your family? Is it adding one more vegetable a day," Mangan said.

Tobacco Program Manager Angela Forte is on a similar mission to battle the unhealthy habits of tobacco users. She says health departments around Florida offer education programs to keep kids from starting tobacco use, but there's also help for people who simply want to quit the habit. 

"There's three ways to quit," Forte said. She says what few people realize is that the state has a quit line, and health departments can make a quick and free referral. 

"They're available to all Floridian residents, so a lot of people don't realize that. They get stuck on I can't afford it. My insurance doesn't cover it. There's a tool out there that can help you," Forte said.

Dr. Ulyee Choe is the interim director of the Polk Health Department, and he says the bottom line is pretty simple.

"We can measure the return on investment from public health through lives we save, diseases we prevent and costs we avoid," he said.

For a complete list of programs and services offered by the Polk Health Department check out their website at www.mypolkhealth.org.


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