Public health critical to our quality of life
by D. GARY DAVIS, Bradley County Mayor
Apr 02, 2013 | 487 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This is Public Health Week in the United States. This time is set aside each April to raise awareness of the critical role our public health providers play in our daily lives.

Local and state health departments make up the front line of defense in efforts to ensure that our community is protected from communicable diseases and other health concerns.

The Bradley County Health Department, under the direction of Eloise Waters, provides a great service to this community. She and her staff do an outstanding job of identifying and assessing community health needs and strategic health planning, as well as developing preventive health programs.

The department’s efforts to ensure good public health can be seen during seasonal outbreaks of the flu and other communicable diseases. Their immunization and health screening programs are in place to not only protect the public’s health, but also help ease any concern we may have about the spread of disease and sickness in Bradley County. The focus of public health initiatives is on preventing disease rather than treatment, and giving you the ability to make informed health choices through information and education.

The Bradley County Health Department’s numerous programs are there for our benefit. The department is one of four Southeast Tennessee counties now providing Primary Care Medical Services for adults between 19 and 64. It continues to provide immunizations and nutrition services through its Women, Infants and Children program.

Other programs include well baby exams, TB skin testing, newborn screening blood tests, preschool physicals and much more. To learn more about the services offered by the Bradley County Health Department, call 423-728-7020. The office is located at 201 Dooley St. You can also visit the State Health Department’s website at http://health.state.tn.us.

The work of guaranteeing good public health includes many elements, from restaurant inspections, which are also overseen by the Health Department, to mosquito control. But there is also an individual component. Health is wealth, and taking the time to invest in exercise and proper diet is like putting money in the bank. No government or public agency can do those things for us. Each individual must shoulder that responsibility and it’s encouraging to know that many local citizens take that responsibility seriously. This is evidenced by the large number of people using the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.

The Greenway not only provides opportunities for physical activity to improve fitness and mental health, but also preserves and restores our open spaces and makes the community more livable. Since its inception more than a decade ago, the Greenway has become a magnet for those who want to enjoy the outdoors and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Bradley County and Cleveland are partners in this worthwhile endeavor along with several businesses, organizations and individuals who see the tremendous benefit in promoting public health. The Greenway has benefited from the County “Healthy Community Initiative” grants made available from the sale of Bradley Memorial Hospital a few years ago. Funds have also been provided from the county budget. The Greenway Board has used these funds wisely and has extended the Greenway from Willow Street downtown to Mohawk Drive behind Home Depot. This has been a good investment in public health. I look forward to the day when someone can get on the Greenway at the Village Green and walk or ride a bike all the way to Charleston.

Public health affects all of our families and is crucial to our quality of life. As mayor, I am grateful for the efforts of the Bradley County Health Department and other health-minded organizations and groups that are working to ensure a healthy community.

This is one more reason I say … Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.