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Public Health: A Time Capsule

Public health services at Southeast Utah Health Department have changed drastically since I started with the health department 35 years ago (and yes, I know many of you weren't born yet)! When I was hired, we had a budget of $1.4 million dollars, 41 FTE's (full time equivalents) and kept track of 19 funding sources in 4 counties.  Included with these were a home health agency, a homemaker program, and a Black Lung Clinic.  The majority of the employees worked in the home health and homemaker programs.  There were 3 Environmental Health staff members, and 1 Health Educator.  The majority of the staff were nurses, home health aides and homemakers. There were 5 childhood vaccines that were required.  Home Health had 2 computers and the business office had 1 computer.  We used typewriters and hand written documentation.

Jumping to 2024, we again have 41 FTE's!  Our budget  is $5.9 million, and we keep track of approximately 100 funding sources in 3 counties.  We now work with many programs that weren't heard of when I started.  The Preparedness Division started in about 2001 as a little piece called HAN, the Health Alert Network, and it has expanded from there.  The current Health Promotion Division works with tobacco, health equity, opioid abuse, suicide prevention, injury prevention and so much more as compared to a small amount of tobacco education along with school maturation classes. The Nursing Division previously did WIC and immunizations.  Although those are still things we do, we now do school nursing, cancer screenings, work with children and families in their homes and in our office, have TB, STD, and HIV programs, and so much more. Environmental Health has added services for the multitude of lodging, food, pools and spas, body art, and tanning establishments that are in our area.  They have also worked with the Human Waste Initiative, (use your imagination) and have worked extensively in bringing environmental health into the electronic era.

I feel like I have lived through a time capsule.  Can you even imagine working without a computer and doing everything in triplicate on paper?  We had no email, no cell phones, no instant communication!  It's a wonder that we survived the 80's and 90's without all the technology that is available now. What changes have you seen in the last 35 years? 


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