Chambers County Health Department head nurse discusses basic services offered

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 19, 2022

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VALLEY — The head nurse for the Chambers County Health Department was the guest speaker at the Monday meeting of the Valley Lions Club. Tracy Taylor has been a nurse since 1986 and has been with the CCHD for the past 14 years. She talked about the basic services of the health department and what is being done to target local health needs.

Alabama is divided into six health districts. Chambers is in the east-central district along with Tallapoosa, Coosa, Lee, Elmore, Autauga, Russell, Bullock, Macon, Montgomery and Lowndes counties.

“We deal with those who are uninsured,” Taylor said. “We advise people on obesity, infant mortality and encourage telehealth utilization.”

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The Chambers County Health Department offers WIC, environmental, home care and clinical services to the public. Clinical services include STD testing and treatment, family planning, childhood and other vaccines, and breast and cancer screening. Certified copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates may be obtained there.

“We are located in Medical Park across the street from Chattahoochee Hospice,” Taylor said.

Getting records is much faster than it once was. In the past, requests had to be made by mail, and it could take up to six weeks to get a copy of a birth or death certificate, marriage license or divorce decree. It’s now done electronically and copies can be received at the Health Department in 30 minutes or less.

“There are some good programs for women who don’t have insurance,” Taylor said. “We have social workers doing all sorts of things.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health is in the third year of a four-year strategic plan. Its mission is to promote, protect and improve the health of Alabama residents.

“The Chambers County Health Department provides quality services that affect every person in Chambers County, not just those who walk through the health department doors,” Taylor said.

In 2021, the CCHD provided 626 home care visits, This involved skilled nursing, physical therapy, medical social work and personal care services through Medicare-certified home health agencies. A total of 5,562 certified copies of vital records were issued on a while-you-wait basis last year. More than 220 inspections were made of local restaurants, schools and other food service and lodging establishments. This was to ensure that environmental health standards are being maintained.

The local health department provided 17 visits for tuberculosis (TB) testing, medication, physician services, epidemiological investigations and lab services for those with known, or suspected, TB disease and their contacts.

The Chambers County Health Department provided immunizations including childhood and adult vaccines. Certificates of immunization required for school entry were provided.

COVID testing and vaccinations are available at the health department. “If you have COVID symptoms we would prefer that you call us at (334) 756-0758 for an appointment,” Taylor said. “You can call us again when you arrive, and we will go outside to test you. Since we have babies and elderly people inside the center, we prefer that we test you outside.”

Taylor said that an old, old malady is rearing its ugly head in Chambers County.

“Syphilis is on the rise,” she said. “It’s an old, old STD, and it’s coming back. Babies are showing up with it, and that’s not good.”

The only way babies can have it is for it to be passed to them by their mother during pregnancy or birth. Congenital syphilis can cause serious lifelong health conditions for a baby.

There were over 16,000 cases of syphilis in Alabama in 2021. Chambers County had an all-time record number of 23 cases.

In 2021, the Chambers County Health Department provided a total of 433 nurse visits for confidential testing, treatment, counseling, partner referral and epidemiological investigations for most sexually transmitted diseases.

The health department offers screening for newborns to detect genetic or metabolic conditions. This can reduce morbidity, premature death, intellectual and other developmental disability through early detection and follow up.

Confidential and professional family planning services were provided in 688 visits last year. A wide range of services is available, regardless of income. This can help prevent unintended pregnancy through education and contraceptive services.

The health department attempts to prevent the occurrence and spread of rabies within the human and animal populations of Chambers County. A total of 44 reports of possible exposure to rabies were investigated last year.

Public health officials in Alabama are encouraging Alabamians to consider getting an HPV vaccination. This can help prevent six different types of cancer, and it’s available at the health department.

Alabama currently ranks 12th in the nation in rates of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer and 3rd in the nation in deaths caused by this.

Alabama is 40th in the nation in its HPV vaccination rate. It’s estimated that the HPV vaccine can reduce oral HPV infection by 90 percent.