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A public health department is a leader in improving the health and well-being of the community. It helps a community prevent disease and avoid unnecessary medical expenditures. Its services are as vital as police, firefighters, and medical personnel who respond to emergencies and protect community health and safety. In Lancaster County, we rely on a patchwork system of public health services delivered by the PA Department of Health, through regional and local offices, numerous private health care providers, and local municipalities.

A public health department centralizes the role of public health and offers the following services:

  • Protects us from health threats, the everyday and the exceptional. A public health department guards multiple fronts to defend us from any health threat, regardless of the source, and works tirelessly to prevent disease outbreaks. It makes sure the tap water we drink, the restaurant food we eat and the air we breathe are all safe. It's ready to respond to any health emergency-be it bioterrorism, H1N1, West Nile Virus or an environmental hazard.

  • Educates us about health issues. A public health department gives us information that allows us to make healthy decisions every day, like exercising more, eating right, quitting smoking or simply washing your hands to keep from spreading illness. It provides this information through public forums in our community, public service announcements in the media, programs in schools, health education in homes and clinics, and detailed Web sites. During a public health emergency, a public health department provides important alerts and warnings to protect our health.

  • Mobilizes the community around important health issues. With local and state government agencies, community service providers, businesses, schools, and the media, a public health department spearheads locally organized health promotion and disease prevention campaigns and projects. It galvanizes the community to tackle disease prevention and personal health care needs and address public health concerns.

  • Links us to healthy solutions. A public health department connects us with personal health services, including preventive and health promotion services in the community. It also advocates for development of needed programs and services in underserved populations and continuously monitors the quality and accessibility of public health services.

  • Advances community health. A public health department plays a vital role in developing new policies and standards that address existing and emerging challenges to our community's health while enforcing a range of laws intended to keep us safe. It is constantly working-through research and rigorous staff training-to maintain its unique expertise and deliver up-to-date, cutting-edge health programs.
 What is a Public Health Department?
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