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The Role of Health Services Departments

Health services make up an important part of the public service sector. Health services departments are responsible for the overall health and well-being of the communities they serve. While their main focus is general health and wellness, health services departments also provide treatment and care to members of the community who otherwise have no healthcare. They offer a wealth of career opportunities to doctors, nurses, undergraduate degree holders and MPA degree holders.

A health services department can offer a variety of programs. The following is a look at some of them.

Prevention and Wellness

Health services departments offer community members access to physicians and medications. Patients can visit a community clinic to get medical care and prescriptions if they do not have insurance or cannot otherwise afford medical care. In this case, care runs the gamut from pediatric and women’s care to general medical care. Many health services departments are best known for preventive and wellness care.

Some of the most popular general healthcare services include the following:

  • Vaccinations.
  • Routine checkups.
  • Women’s care.
  • School physicals.

Community Outreach and Education

The health services department routinely works with local entities like schools and senior care facilities and at community events to offer education on health and wellness. Topics range from proper diet and exercise to the importance of vaccinations and public safety measures. The health services department is responsible for creating presentations, providing educational materials and ensuring the community is aware of the health-related services available.

WIC and Healthy Start

Both Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Healthy Start are federally funded programs that foster the health and wellness of children and new mothers. Local health services departments administer these programs, which give mothers and children access to healthy foods, immunizations and a host of other tools and supplies to ensure that at-risk children have the best possible chance at healthy lives.

Research

One of the lesser-known functions of the health services department is research. The department keeps pertinent data on many different factors that affect the community. It administers behavioral studies to evaluate risk factors for teens and children, and conducts surveys on matters like tobacco use. It also keeps up-to-date research on any diseases or health issues that could affect the community.

Environmental Concerns

The health services department also aims to protect the community from environmental hazards. It monitors consumer safety, an aspect of public health that encompasses food safety, drinking water safety and the potential hazards posed by certain public places such as pools. It also gives consumers access to information related to environmental safety — such as the pollutants found in air or water — and provides related services.

The preceding examples highlight the vital role a health services department plays in community health and well-being as well as the career options it offers to suit a variety of educational and professional backgrounds.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online MPA program.


Sources:

World Health Organization: Health Services

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


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