Connor Wakefield ’23 — This summer I got an internship with the local health department here in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) is responsible for all manner of health-related things that you would not normally need to see a doctor or other health care provider for. Services include things like birth and death records/certificates, water samples, STI testing, immunizations, vector control, etc. Of course, we have also been doing a lot of covid testing and vaccinations.
One of the major projects that I have been working on has been combing through and collecting data on overdose rates within Montgomery County. MCHD will then be able to use the information and conclusions that I have been coming making to create plans that will revolve around prevention measures. Prevention measures are one of the major goals of any health department and was something that I was not aware of when starting this internship. Of course, now during the halfway point, I can successfully say that I now fully understand that prevention measures are just as important if not more important than primary care to ensuring a good level of public health.
Another major job that all the interns have been given for this summer was working with vector control. Specifically, for us, that vector is mosquitos. Although it is useful to point out that a vector is any animal that can carry infectious diseases. To successfully be able to do vector control, we first are tasked with catching mosquitoes. To do this, we set up traps that are designed to lure in female mosquitoes. We only want to capture the females because they are the actual ones that bite people. Males do not. This is due to the female mosquitoes requiring blood to have the nutrients necessary for laying eggs. Of course, the bite is also when infectious disease could be spread to the target. There are many infectious diseases that mosquitoes could be carrying, but the biggest threat for Montgomery County would be West Nile Virus. Once we lay a trap and capture some mosquitoes, they are frozen and then counted. After counting, we ship them off to the State Health Department to be tested for any infectious disease. As of right now though, no mosquitoes have tested positive for carrying any sort of infectious disease. Once again, this is a form of preventative care by trying to stop people from getting something like West Nile. By capturing and testing mosquitoes, we can gather data and inform the public on how to have a fun and safe summer disease free. Also, at the bottom of this letter will be an attached picture of Andrew and myself out at North Montgomery Highschool checking in on a trap we laid.
The final task that I have been given thus far this summer has revolved all around covid-19. About once a week I will be doing all covid testing. This testing is of course very similar to what we did in Chadwick Court during the school year. Also, during the days of our vaccine clinics, I will help with scribing. My job there is to complete appointments patients have, fill out covid cards, and take note of which injection was given and where it was given. Altogether, I have been able to learn a lot this summer and am really enjoying my time here at MCHD.