To improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) emergency preparedness and response efforts at local health departments (LHDs), NACCHO and CDC provided technical assistance to Franklin County Public Health (FCPH), Ohio to implement the ‘What makes a water-prepared LHD?’ checklist in their jurisdiction. This checklist was developed by NACCHO’s WASH Emergency Preparedness and Response Workgroup members and was designed to support health professionals with various levels of experience with WASH emergencies. The technical assistance program began in January 2021 and concluded July 2021.
About Franklin County Public Health
FCPH is a general health district as designated by Ohio law and is the sixth largest health district in Ohio. FCPH provides public health services to 17 townships, nine villages, and 14 suburban cities in Franklin County, excluding the cities of Columbus and Worthington. For over 100 years, FCPH has been providing clinical services, environmental health services, health education and advocacy programs, and disease intervention programs. FCPH serves a population of approximately 472,549 residents with a staff of 124 employees. The agency has extensive experience in managing projects and administering grant-funded programs. In 2016, FCPH received the status of “Accredited Health Department” by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). FCPH is passionate about cross sectorial services and working to always innovate with best practices.
Technical Assistance Program: Lessons Learned
Throughout the duration of this technical assistance program, nearly 100% of staff at FCPH were dedicated to supporting efforts related to the pandemic response. Despite this, FCPH was able to gain valuable insight into how they can improve their preparedness and response for WASH emergencies. The ways in which FCPH hopes to be able to implement the lessons learned throughout this technical assistance program include:
- Establishing relationships with utility companies (water, sewer, electric, gas) to develop consistent and timely messaging, and to shape appropriate responses to licensed facilities and vulnerable populations;
- Increasing collaboration of the Environmental Health Epidemiologist with epidemiologists in other FCPH divisions to enhance data sharing;
- Improving emergency communications, internally and externally, before an incident occurs to ensure equal levels of preparedness; and
- Ensuring that environmental health professionals are at the table when Emergency Operation plans and trainings are being developed and implemented.
NACCHO’s Support for WASH Efforts at Local Health Departments
Complex and frequent WASH emergencies such as contaminants, natural disasters, and infrastructure failures threaten community health, and LHDs are at the forefront of preparedness and response for these events. As the organization representing nearly 3,000 county and city health departments across the country, NACCHO is committed to supporting WASH efforts at the local level.
For additional information and resources, please see below:
- NACCHO’s WASH Resource Library – contains communication materials, templates, workforce development opportunities, and more; and
- NACCHO’s Toolbox – a free, online collection of public health tools and resources.
NACCHO’s WASH team can be contacted at WASH@naccho.org.