NAACHO Full Page Marietta Belpre Page 1

Carrying Forward Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic at Marietta/Belpre Health Department

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Marietta/Belpre Health Department in Ohio serves a rural population of roughly 20,000 people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the small health department got creative to keep residents informed. Eventually, the department would come through the pandemic stronger than before, with staff applying valuable lessons learned — including a heightened focus on emergency preparedness.

But early in the pandemic, the demands of the response — particularly communicating with residents about ever-evolving information and guidance — strained the small staff. “We didn’t have someone who was dedicated to communications,” said Rebecca Aber, Accreditation Coordinator and Grants Administrator. “It was hard to prioritize communications because we had other work we needed to carry out, like our state-mandated accreditation process. But yet we had this pandemic going on that took precedence over anything else.”

Still, the health department succeeded in reaching community members by switching up its approach. “Early on, we were putting articles in the newspaper, updating our social media, and sharing the communications materials passed down from state and national sources — but we were still missing people because not everyone has social media or reads the newspaper,” Aber said. So the health department put up billboards in the area and the then-health commissioner did TV spots on local news stations to educate community members about COVID-19 and the health department’s services.

With these experiences top of mind, the health department identified the need for a dedicated communications coordinator as its top priority during an after-action assessment of its pandemic response. As a result, it brought on Amber Gossett-Bailey as Health Planning and Promotion Coordinator and Public Information Officer.

The pandemic response also spurred the health department to step up its emergency preparedness efforts — like by updating its emergency response plan through the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ COVID-19 Workforce Project. “The Workforce Project helped us realize where we had shortfalls,” Aber said.

Post-pandemic, staff have used routine public health events to test their readiness for emergencies. “We used our recent drive-through flu clinic as a mock emergency drill to practice what we’ll do if we have another event like COVID-19 where we need to get a vaccine out very quickly,” said Gossett-Bailey. “We know who’s in charge and who’s taking on what role.”

And though the pandemic had a major impact on the health department’s work and staff, Gossett-Bailey is more interested in looking forward. “COVID’s still here, and it’s always going to be here,” she said. “But it’s time to start looking to the future — not in the rearview at what happened in 2020. There’s more to public health than COVID, and I think to grow, we need to start realizing that.”

Learn more about Marietta/Belpre Health Department’s work at mariettabelprehealth.org, and read the profile here.

NACCHO’s COVID-19 Workforce Project supported Marietta/Belpre Health Department’s emergency response efforts.

This publication was supported by grant # 6NU38OT000306-03-06 awarded to the National Association of County and City Health Officials and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


About Andrea Grenadier

More posts by Andrea Grenadier

Related Posts

1689185362932
  • Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Performance Improvement Workforce Development

Register to Attend a Mobilizing for Action through...

Registration is now open for NACCHO’s (MAPP) 2.0 training series.

May 09, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Register to Attend a Mobilizing for Action through...

I Stock 1305252434 work team 2
  • Funding Opportunity Health Equity & Social Justice Performance Improvement

RFP: Creating Tools that Facilitate Engagement of Local...

This RFP supports LHDs by creating tools that facilitate their engagement and...

May 06, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

RFP: Creating Tools that Facilitate Engagement of Local...

I Stock 498649859
  • Funding Opportunity Health Equity & Social Justice

Request for Proposals: Website Developer for Health...

NACCHO is seeking a consultant to develop a dynamic website for NACCHO’s...

Apr 17, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Request for Proposals: Website Developer for Health...

NAACHO Infographic1
  • Community Health Community Resilience COVID-19 Performance Improvement

COVID Workforce Project Infographics

Check out infographics designed as part of an initiative to highlight the...

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

COVID Workforce Project Infographics

NAACHO Full Page Greene jpg Page 1
  • Community Health Community Resilience COVID-19 Performance Improvement

Listening to the Community and Co-creating Solutions...

Fewer than 12k people call rural Greene County home. It may be a small...

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Listening to the Community and Co-creating Solutions...

NAACHO Full Page Lewis Page 1
  • Community Health Community Resilience COVID-19 Performance Improvement

Building on Personal Relationships to Serve the...

Lewis County, KY, stretches across nearly 500 square miles of wooded hills and...

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Building on Personal Relationships to Serve the...

NAACHO Full Page Tuscarawas Page 1
  • Community Health Community Resilience COVID-19 Performance Improvement

Identifying Partners to Reach Residents During the...

Tuscarawas County Health Department serves a population in the Appalachia...

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Identifying Partners to Reach Residents During the...

NAACHO Full Page Oneida Page 1
  • Community Health Community Resilience COVID-19 Performance Improvement

NACCHO’s COVID Workforce Project: Leveraging Community...

At Oneida County Health Department, cooperation is baked into daily operations;...

Apr 11, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

NACCHO’s COVID Workforce Project: Leveraging Community...

I Stock 1128971953
  • Funding Opportunity Healthy People 2030

Grant Announcement: Community Level Innovations for...

The Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human...

Apr 03, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Grant Announcement: Community Level Innovations for...

Back to Top