HEALTH OFFICER’S CORNER
To Monmouth County Regional Health Commission Communities:
Thank you for your patience, dedication and cooperation as we navigate this public health crisis called COVID-19. All of us at the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission No. 1 wish to express our deepest sympathy to the families and friends who have lost loved ones during this unprecedented disease. These are challenging times as we struggle to adjust to how COVID-19 affects all of us.
Although we are still in the midst of this public health crisis, we are seeing hopeful signs of progress towards bending the curve of this serious disease:
- New cases of the disease are declining,
- Hospitalizations have stabilized,
- More testing sites are available,
- Increased focusing on asymptomatic PCR testing,
- Long-term care facilities have more assess to personal protective equipment,
- Our staff and volunteers are starting COVID-19 investigations and contact tracing within 24 hours of notification and
- We continue to reach out to individuals previously infected to review and close out older COVID cases.
With all of the above in mind, we must collectively prepare to reopen our communities while supporting a safer way of life under “new normal” practices. We will be providing more specific guidance in order to adapt to new conditions. This guidance will be living documents that will be updated and modified as we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and the varying ways that it affects our communities. We encourage you to use our guidance documents in preparation to reopen our communities in a healthy and safe manner.
Our focus is on your health. Stay hopeful, stay encouraged, be patient, stay engaged in your health and stay safe by following CDC and New Jersey Department of Health recommendations. Together we will get through this public health crisis.
Yours in Health,
David Henry, Health Officer
THE TRUE FACE OF THE MONMOUTH COUNTY REGIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION NO. 1
IN THIS FIGHT INCLUDES
Our REGISTERED ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS – have maintained 24-7 open communication lines with officials in the multiple towns they each cover. They respond to concerns of our town Point of Contacts which include governing bodies and municipal staff, OEM Coordinators EMS, Police, Restaurant owners, etc. The REHS members also research the online database regarding COVID-19 case entries and results. In addition, they continue to deal with the other concerns and responsibilities that are part of their job as health inspectors.
Our ADMINISTRATIVE Staff – manning phone lines, fielding and directing the wide range of town and public inquiries, financial recordkeeping relating to grant management, Monthly Commission Board meeting remote preparation, minutes, etc. as well as general office schedules and operation. Website planning/updates/listserv management /and frequent communication updates and HO messages to our towns.
Our HEALTH EDUCATOR (partially grant funded) – with a strong Risk Communications background under the direction of the Health Officer has compiled pertinent fact sheets and other disease awareness, preparedness and personal wellbeing maintenance tips for the general public as well as targeted guideline documents for different facets of the community and transformed them into website updates as well as public health advisories/press releases.
Our CONSORTIUM Members have worked tirelessly to manage the situations within their own areas many using volunteer assistance, as well as communicating with the MCRHC Communicable Disease Team.
President Len Giles has been present at our office a majority of the time, to review all news reports, NJDOH and Governor Murphy’s daily updates, take phone calls, make sure staff safety measures are kept in the forefront. He has reviewed various Commission communications/meeting documents in order to assist the Health Officer. All of this illustrates the Governing body’s support of the MCRHC staff. He is also working to improve our technical methods of disseminating information and holding future department telephone and video conferencing.
Our Vice- President Paul Roman and several other Commissioners and town officials have constantly sent words of support via phone and email comments and those with medical backgrounds have offered helping hands as well.
Our COMMUNICATION EFFORTS
Website pages dedicated to the virus and many links to provide disease/symptom knowledge, CDC state changing regulations, case counts, steps to maintain wellness, etc. (mcrhc.org)
Our temporary expanded phone hours allowing for accessibility of staff to provide answers for medical personnel, towns and the public
(732-493-9520) will be in effect as needed.
Health Officer/Communications Committee: Public Health Alerts and Advisories Emails to inform of resources, protocol, or dangerous practices to avoid (sign up on our website for E News)
Media Relationships (NBC News, Asbury Park Press, 101.7 The Boss) met or stay in contact with our Health Officer and PIO David Henry to gain understanding of the disease and current operations to share with the general public.
Health Officer hosted COVID-19 Teleconferences –these updates have been very well attended. Reminder invitations are forwarded weekly to our Mayors, Administrators, OEM Coordinators, Commissioners, Staff and (recently) Police Departments.
The REHS and Administrative staff have worked to streamline efforts and put measures in place to provide the greatly needed assistance to our communities. In a situation such as this, we hope this has been successful in the vast majority of all calls and requests made to us. The state disease reporting database has been overwhelmed, and at points, slow to access along with governmental rulings that can delay test results and direct communications with towns.
Different community concerns have taken priority at different times throughout this public health crisis, having gone from what are the symptoms, How Spread, Where to find PPE, Where to Get Tested, Should School/Business/Facility Closings, what are best cleaning practices, what to do if you are aware of a positive test result, what is a close contact, how long should someone confirmed or deemed a close contact self -quarantine or self - isolate, I know of a business that is not practicing the recommended social distancing or PPE protocol, how can I donate blood plasma, what Executive Orders have been set and what are the latest numbers………
New and quickly changing information emerges in the form of NJDOH Talking Points, put out several times per week must be reviewed by ALL staff in order to correctly guide and respond to public questions.
In summary, the professional and dedicated staff working and supporting our towns and residents through every step of this public health crisis extends beyond one department and I thank them all for supporting the MCRHC operation, their towns and each other at this most critical juncture.
We are pressing forward (along with the world right now) to keep our communities healthy!
Yours in Health,
David A. Henry