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MOVHD looks back at successes for 2010

March 4, 2011

PARKERSBURG - The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department had a busy year in 2010, providing vaccines, planning an expansion of its oral health program to include adults, offering programs to fight obesity in adults and children, providing foodhandler classes and promoting healthier lifestyles through a six-county coalition effort.

The local department, headquartered at 211 Sixth St. in downtown Parkersburg, serves Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie and Roane counties.

Carrie Brainard, health and wellness director, said the department's Diet, Record, Exercise, Activity, Monitoring (D.R.E.A.M.) Program, which began in 2006, has served more than 2,000 people who lost a combined total of two tons.

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Photos by Pamela Brust
Dick Wittberg is executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. The health department serves six counties offering a variety of programs and services including new health and wellness projects, a proposed oral health care project to serve adults, a spit tobacco cessation project, and foodhandler courses.

Dick Wittberg, executive director, said the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program, funded through a Centers for Disease Control federal grant, employed 29 people, including 14 physical education teachers in middle and high schools in all six counties who are providing more access to physical activity for students.

Activities include classes before school starts, and life skills training. Wellness coordinators are on board in the six counties who are working to identify need and improve wellness. Projects so far include promotion of walking/biking trails, development of safe sidewalks and playgrounds, promotion of better eating habits including farmers' markets, and making fresh fruit and vegetable snacks available at schools.

"The overall goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice," Brainard said.

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Coordinators are also working with convenience stores and concession stands to promote healthy choice options, encouraging schools to open in the evenings during winter months to provide a safe place to walk and in general promoting healthier lifestyles, Brainard said.

Mary Beth Shea, oral health coordinator, said Title I school students can receive dental screening and then are referred to a dentist for problems or concerns. Shea said there were 10 dentists participating last year and this year there are 17.

"It's a screening and referral process to help them get to a dentist," she said.

"The new adult program, Smiles for Life, is a volunteer dental program for low income adults. With that program, no treatment will be done at the MOVHD. The dentists volunteer their time. It's most cost-effective for them to work out of their own offices," Shea said.

Clients will be billed for services based on a sliding scale. The dentist will charge a stipend for staff and overhead.

In July, Mathiew Richards came on board as part of a pilot spit tobacco cessation program. Richards works primarily out of the Roane County office with the program targeting Calhoun, Roane and Wirt counties.

"Those counties were targeted because residents there have the highest usage of spit tobacco," Brainard said.

Tonia Lang, clinical director at the Health Department, reported this past summer the agency started providing adult and child travel vaccines and students were offered meningococcal, as well as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccinations.

With concern over outbreaks of pertussis - whooping cough - those vaccines were also made available.

"Adults don't die from whooping cough, but they can transmit it to children and children can die from it. The CDC has new guidelines and recommendations for the vaccine, that all ages have a booster," Lang said.

"It's especially important for anyone who is around children," Wittberg said.

Flu shots were also offered to Wood County students as well as adults.

Tim Miller, environmental health program manager, said his department has been busy with foodhandler training. In December a requirement went into effect for foodhandler cards.

Classes are offered at the health department on the third Tuesday monthly at 10 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m., registration is needed for those classes. The class is also offered at other times and locations, schedules appear on the Health Department website, or call the department for more information. There is a $5 charge. Anyone with questions about who is required to have the card can contact the health department. The department also offers the Serve Safe course to management personnel.



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