Hemant Sah ’17 – I am thankful to Fountain-Warren County Health Department for giving me an opportunity to work with them. I am on an eight week long internship that focuses on addressing public health issues.
I knew public health is about rendering health services to as many people as you can. But the internship made me realize my knowledge was very basic. Public health is a very broad topic, beyond what I had thought. It refers to all the organized measures and informed choices of society, organizations, communities and individuals to prevent diseases, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Public health organizations (here, Fountain-Warren County Health Department) plan activities based on population health analysis, and aim to provide the conditions in which people can be healthy and completely eradicate threatening diseases.
The Fountain & Warren County Health Department recognizes that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Therefore, they dedicate their services to help the citizens of both Fountain and Warren County achieve and maintain their highest level of health. As part of my internship, I assist the health workers and professionals to monitor and diagnose the health concerns such as vaccination and control of infectious diseases, safer workplaces, safer and healthier foods, safe drinking water, health of mother and infants, tobacco use and abuse, and prescription drug abuse, etc.
I have diverse tasks both menial and exciting. I am responsible for entering data into the State’s system and expedite the paperwork. Exciting tasks include meetings with the county commissioners, analyze surveys, produce reports and, examine CT and MRI scans. I also got to do food inspections at grocery stores and restaurants in both counties. I received training to dispatch and manage emergency services like fire department, local hospital and, law enforcement. I input septic system information into iTOSS (Indiana’s network for
Tracking of On-site Sewage Systems). iTOSS keeps records of all new and old septic records which can be assessed by any health worker within the state. There is another similar system called CHIRP which keeps record of immunization of the county’s population within the state. I also assisted the health educator during the Park’s Program to educate kids on use of sunscreen and sun safety. Community Action Program (CAP) is an important initiative that adopted several ways that Indiana is trying to stop all forms of tobacco use.
I also got a chance to pick a health issue for my own project to be completed by the end of the internship. As obesity is one of the major public health issues in both Fountain and Warren County. I chose obesity, for my independent project. Last year’s Community Health Needs Assessment survey revealed that 34% of the population of the bi-county area is obese. The data also coincides with the United States’ one-third obese population. Therefore, I’m working to organize a private screening of ‘FED UP’. The documentary examines the truth behind “low-fat foods”, sugar intake, corporate politics and advertising of processed food. The documentary is not scheduled to be released in Indiana and I advise everyone reading this blog to watch ‘FED UP’. The movie director urged ‘everyone who eats’ to watch the documentary. It will change the way you think about food.
Lastly, I would like to reflect on what all these information and experience have helped me to accomplish. I am from a Nepal but we have similar health issues in Nepalese community. Nepal is yet to recognize prescription drug abuse and sun exposure as a potential risk to public health. We do recognize tobacco abuse as a public health issue but the actions being taken fail to be aggressive and effective. When I go back, I can propose the authorities, these successful steps that the health department and Indiana have taken to tackle health issues of my community in Nepal.
All this would not have been possible without a Wabash College and the Lilly Endowment Fund. I express my heartiest gratitude to Lilly Endowment, Inc. which has made a wide range of new programs and opportunities available for students to hone leadership skills and work experience across the state. I also thank all the alumni and friends of Wabash who donate Wabash to produce capable men.