By Christy Jergens, Florida Department of Health in Marion County

While the Florida Department of Health in Marion County is heavily focused on responding to COVID-19 in the community currently, the department provides a wide array of programs and services to benefit residents. Read below for more information on what’s offered outside of COVID-19 testing.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County provides community, environmental and personal health services for Marion County residents. Community health work include epidemiology (contagious disease investigation, reporting and prevention), tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, health education, and public health preparedness. Preparedness efforts include actions to protect the health of Florida’s residents and visitors from the effects of man-made and natural disasters. As part of these preparedness efforts, the department staffs and operates the county’s special needs shelters in the event of a local state of emergency (such as a hurricane). Community health work also includes the registering and issuing of Florida birth and death certificates.

The personal health services that the county health department provides include family planning, WIC, Healthy Start program, immunizations, school health, dental, HIV/AIDS counseling/treatment and the Mobile Health Unit. WIC provides healthy food, nutrition education and counseling and breastfeeding support for women, infants and children under age 5. The Healthy Start program helps pregnant women, women who are between pregnancies and women with young children with education, resources and more. Family planning services include well-women exams, pregnancy and pap testing and the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program.  The department also provides screening, counseling and treatment to people with STDs, while the Mobile Health Unit takes various department services on the road to sites across the county where it may be easier for some residents to access services.

The department’s immunizations program provides vaccines at no cost for children and youth up to age 18 and offers some adult immunizations, too. School health staff work primarily in local public schools and provide direct student care in school clinics, health education in classrooms and student health screenings for vision, hearing and growth and development. The dental program provides diagnostic, restorative, preventive and educational services to children and adults. Dental services are provided at both the department’s dental clinic at the College of Central Florida Hampton Center and in local schools.

Environmental Health work covers many areas. The department issues permits to build, repair or modify septic systems, provides well permits and responds to complaints of public water drinking systems, responds to sanitary nuisances, and monitors food preparation in schools, detention centers and assisted living facilities. Environmental Health also inspects and regulates biomedical waste, body piercing establishments, public pools, mobile home and RV parks and more. Staff also work with Marion County Animal Services to respond to animal bites and provides treatment to ensure someone does not become ill with rabies after being bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.

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