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District to mark 100 years of public health with open house

If you are a baby boomer you probably remember the line in the gym at school where you drank from small paper cups the vaccine that would protect us from polio. Or maybe you recall someone who was stricken with polio, perhaps a neighbor or a visitor next door who used crutches and leg braces to get around, or maybe a wheelchair. You may have had measles, mumps, or rubella. You thought there was no big deal about it because all you had to do was stay in your bedroom with the windows covered to keep the room dark so you wouldn’t injure your eyes. You didn’t know that there were people who lost their sight because of measles, or were very ill and had to be hospitalized, maybe even died.

Local historians can tell you about epidemics that struck populations in your town because there were no immunizations to protect them from deadly diseases like yellow fever and small pox.

Wesley Vins, Columbiana County Health Commissioner, speaks about the history of public health in Columbiana County. He can tell you a lot, including there were 252 deaths of children under the age of five in 1916, 255 in 1917 and 291 in 1918, many due to childhood illnesses that have been eradicated in the region. In 2018, there were five.

In 1918, the Spanish flu swept through the health district, state, country and the world which prompted the need for public health to become organized in Ohio to serve all residents at the local level.

Prior to 1919, health districts were required for areas with populations of 25,000 or more people. Today, in Columbiana County the cities of East Liverpool and Salem maintain their own health districts. The Columbiana County Health District covers the rest of the county and provides direct services to the residents on a daily basis. The goal is the same today as it was in 1919: keeping residents safe from the spread of disease, illness and injury.

In 1965, the Cancer Detection Clinic was established at the Columbiana County Health District as a pap clinic with state funding. Since 1980, the clinic has been funded by a renewing local levy that costs less than $5 per year for a $100,000 home. It is neighbors helping neighbors during a catastrophic illness, and never knowing when we might need such help.

Cancer clinic services include patient navigation and referral, mammograms, pelvic exams and pap tests, skin cancer screenings, prostate screenings and, this year, the addition of lung cancer screenings. These services are free of charge for all residents of the Columbiana County General Health District. Out-of-health district patients can receive services for a minimal fee and insurance can be billed for mammograms.

The Health District is “Celebrating 100 Years of Public Health in Ohio” with an open house from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 1. The health district offices are located at 7360 State Route 45, Lisbon. There will be door prizes and gift baskets.

During the celebration, the agency staff will provide (while supplies last) flu vaccines, pneumonia vaccines, carseat inspections, free Pack N Plays (safe place for baby to sleep) for WIC eligible families, free rabies vaccine vouchers for dogs or cats, new shingles vaccines, blood pressure screenings, and free bike helmets.

In addition to refreshments, there will be environmental health lectures about wells, food safety, septic systems, rabies, mosquitoes and emergency preparedness. The hourly schedule can be found on the web at www.columbiana-health.org.

The vision of the Columbiana County Health District is “A safe community of healthy people.” Visit the open house and meet Health Commissioner Vins and his staff, the people who strive to meet the goal every single day.

For information, contact the Health District by phone at 330-424-0272, or email, cchd@columbiana-health.org. The web site is located at www.columbiana-health.org.

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