At the Galveston County Health District we often see surprise in the expressions of people when they realize the variety and depth of services we provide. With that in mind, we thought Public Health Week, April 3 through 9, is a great time to highlight how our services touch the daily lives of everyone in our community.
Prevent disease and illness
Last year we conducted 3,900 restaurant, 1,588 temporary food vendor, 510 public pool and 407 septic inspections to ensure consumer safety. These inspections help make sure the food you eat at restaurants is safely prepared, the public pools you visit are properly maintained and septic systems don’t contaminate land and water.
We administered 7,058 immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases during the same time period. The importance and effectiveness of vaccines is well documented.
Protect from public health threats
We conducted 53,538 infectious diseases investigations including 663 confirmed cases and 18 controlled outbreaks in 2015. During the same year we monitored and treated 13 patients with active tuberculosis disease and conducted 2,346 HIV tests. These activities help prevent, identify, isolate and control disease outbreaks.
When it comes to the air we breathe and the water we enjoy, we gathered 5,765 samples and investigated 161 complaints.
Medical, dental and counseling visits to our primary care clinic, Coastal Health & Wellness, totaled 41,798 last year. Our clinic, located in Texas City and Galveston, accepts insurance but also offers discounts for the uninsured and underinsured.
Other ways we promoted wellness in 2015 included distributing 16,995 condoms, assisting 10,237 nutritionally at-risk women, infants and children, conducting 836 women’s health screenings (resulting in 16 cancer diagnoses) and participating in 24 health fairs and outreach events.
Respond to and prepare for emergencies
Our EMS agency, the Galveston Area Ambulance Authority, responded to 13,309 incidents and conducted 3,565 nonemergency medical transfers in 2015. GAAA is the largest EMS operation in the county, serving Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Jamaica Beach, Galveston, Tiki Island and unincorporated areas of Galveston County, including Bacliff, Bayshore and San Leon.
We also conducted or attended 56 preparedness meetings and 36 training events last year. These meetings help us and other local agencies prepare for emergencies ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.
Did you know we’re the place to go to get birth and death records? We issued approximately 20,000 certified birth and death records and registered 9,000 records in 2015.
We also operate the largest, most modern and best-equipped animal shelter in the county, the Galveston County Animal Resource Center, providing animal services to Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City, Tiki Island and unincorporated Galveston County. Last year 2,682 animal were adopted, rescued or reunited with their owners, resulting in an 11 percent drop in the euthanasia rate compared to 2014.
We recently completed a document that looks back at the history of public health in the county. It’s available at www.gchd.org/about.
Everything we do is aimed at protecting and promoting the optimal health and well-being of Galveston County.
Kathy Barroso is chief executive officer of the Galveston County Health District.