Health Department – Perfect RX for Greendale

Week#43: The Health Department’s slogan is: ‘Public Health: Prevent, Protect, Promote’. And no community does it any better than right here in Greendale.

History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.

History and Folklore!

There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson “The First Wealth is Health” in the reception area of the Greendale Health Department (GHD). That says it all. If you don’t have your health, not much else matters. That’s why I think this week’s story is the most important one in the 75th Birthday Countdown series. We take good health for granted when we have it, and we should not. Sometimes disease and sickness is unavoidable, unpredictable, and unfair. Most times however, a conscious effort to follow some simple rules leads to better health. In either case, the Health Department plays a significant role in everyone’s health in the community of Greendale.

When I sat down with Greendale’s Health Officer, Sue Shepeard and the Health Nurse Supervisor, Cristine Reischl to learn more about the department, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea of the depth and breadth of the services offered and programs run by the department. There is no way I could begin to cover them all in this story, nor could I keep your attention that long. But everyone reading this story should do these two important things:

1. Take a ride over to the Greendale Health Department (GHD) and pick up a brochure outlining their services and keep it handy at home.  

2. Call the information and referral ‘NurseLine’ if you have any health-related questions. You will be speaking with a professional nurse weekdays from 8:00am until 4:30pm. After hours you can leave a message or be connected to the police dispatch in a real emergency.

You should know where the Health Department is located, and utilize the services they can provide. The GHD cannot prescribe treatment, but they can link people to needed services. There are so many things the Health Department does for free. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Ask-a-nurse information and referral line (mentioned above)
  • Blood pressure checks. Doctors may want your blood pressure monitored and the nurse will do that and keep the doctor informed.
  • Immunizations for infants, children and adults. Note: The GHD will still provide immunizations free to the uninsured, those on Badger Care, and the underinsured. There is sometimes a minimal fee. Call the referral line to check the specifics for your needs.
  • Radon kits for home testing. I did not know that radon was the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer.
  • Regular restaurant and event food inspections to be sure food preparation and handling is safe, as well as the investigation of citizen complaints about restaurants
  • Communicable disease follow-up: isolation and quarantine orders if needed, information to patients on disease course, communicability, care of sick individual, prevention of spread.
  • Home visits to new parents for guidance and to the elderly to assist in getting needed services.
  • Animal bite follow-up to prevent rabies and investigation of citizen complaints about animals
  • Participate in the Community Walk, FUN Run/Walk or other exercise programs and classes that promote health.
  • Residents can volunteer to help with the emergency preparedness - lots of volunteers are needed!

I realize that the list above is a little hard to digest. It is for me also. So, from now on when I’m in doubt about some health issue I’ll just call them. That is exactly what they want us to do. So do it!!!

I don’t want to wrap up this story without mentioning a few programs run by the GHD that resonated with me. First, the GHD works closely with the Greendale School District on tobacco prevention programs. The primary goal is to keep kids from starting to smoke, but helping others to quit smoking is also part of the programs. Second, the GHD is starting to run fall prevention programs for seniors, like not falling down. Classes are held that bring in physical therapists, pharmacists, police officers, and medical personnel to provide instruction on fall prevention. Once again I found out something I did not know. The leading contributing cause of death in older people is a fall. That is a sobering statistic.

If you’re thinking that the GHD is all business and no fun, you’re almost completely right. I tried to get them to tell me some funny health related stories, like who are the biggest babies when it comes to getting shots, or if anyone called the referral line asking for directions to the nearest McDonald’s. No luck. They are cheerful, helpful professionals, dead serious about the job they perform for the community. The funest thing I could find that they do is the ‘Greendale Summer Playground Challenge’, also sponsored by Ferch’s Malt Shoppe and Grill. Children 10 years old and younger can get a passport from the GHD. They then visit each Greendale Park for some fun and exercise. Their passport gets stamped (by their parents I assume), and when they have visited each park they get a certificate and a chance to win a prize in a drawing. That’s a neat program. Not sure why the program is not expanded to those of us who are retired. We’re trying to be like kids again, and often act like one. Something for the Greendale Health Department to consider.

But did you know?

If all this talk about better health has got you fired up to get more active, you’re in luck. The annual Step Up to Better Health Fun Run/Walk is Cctober 21st (i.e. this Sunday). The run is a 5K (3.1 miles) which will be too much is you’re just getting started, but the walk is a leisurely 2 miles. One mile walked burns 100 calories. That may not seem like much, but if you walk one mile every day that’s 700 calories each week that don’t show up somewhere else where they are unwanted.

The event is sponsored by the Greendale Health Department and the Greendale School District. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at Greendale High School and the run/walk starts at 10:30 a.m. Last year over 700 people participated. So you won’t be alone. Push away from that plate of breakfast pancakes on Sunday and take that first baby step to a healthier lifestyle.

People, Past & Present!

Not only are the staff of the Greendale Health Department very serious about the work they perform, they have a ‘serious’ amount of experience in the health care field. Additionally Dr. John Lubing serves as the department's Volunteer Medical Advisor. I don’t know who is responsible for hiring such a quality staff, but Greendale is lucky to have them. Gratitude also must be given to the members of the Greendale Board of Health who donate their time and experience in service to the community.

Check out these unbelievable credentials:

Susan Shepeard, Health Officer/Health Director (Full Time)

  • RN, Master of Science in Nursing, MSN,
  • Prior experience: City of Milwaukee Health Department for 34 years
  • Greendale Health Department: 8 years
  • Responsibility: Manages the day to day operations of the health department, supervises clerical, nursing and environmental staff, manages and prepares the budget, negotiates federal and state contracts totaling $50,000 and assures that all State Statutes and Administrative Rules governing the health department are followed to protect the health of the community.  Additionally assesses environmental issues affecting health and writes orders to comply with health related municipal codes such as Human Health Hazards, Homes unfit for human habitation, restaurants not following the food code and animal bites.

Cristine Reischl, Public Health Nurse Supervisor (Half Time)

  • RN, BSN (Bachelor in Nursing)
  • Greendale Health Department: 26 years
  • Responsibility: general public health, back-up for Health Officer, Step Up to Better Health Committee health promotion activities,  tobacco prevention and control program including youth activities, liaison to Greendale School District, media coordination.

Jean Bartling, Public Health Nurse (Half Time)

  • RN, BSN (Bachelor in Nursing)
  • Greendale Health Department: 25 years
  • Responsibility: general public health, maternal and child health, influenza immunization program, grant coordinator, senior residence services, Health Dept. liaison with School district for Child Development Days.

Karen Roeder, Office Assistant (Full Time)

  • Greendale Health Department: 17years
  • Responsibility: assist office employees, immunization appointments, data entry, Extensive contact with public.

Sue Callison, Public Health Nurse (1/4 Time)

  • RN, BSN (Bachelor in Nursing)
  • Greendale Health Department: 6 years
  • Responsibility: general public health, vaccine storage and handling, emergency preparedness, community education programs, Fall Prevention Program, Chronic Disease Self Management.

Olga Gonzalez, Public Health Nurse (1/4 Time)

  • RN, BSN (Bachelor in Nursing)
  • Greendale Health Department: 6 years
  • Responsibility: general public health, lead poisoning prevention program, radon testing program, child immunization program, emergency preparedness, N-95 respirator fit testing for Village
    employees First Responders,  liaison to St. Alphonsus School.

Mark Malin, Environmental Health Specialist (1/5 Time)

  • RS (Registered Sanitarian),
  • Prior experience: City of Milwaukee (current full time job)
  • Greendale Health Department:  23 years
  • Responsibility: inspection of restaurants and temporary vending at events, investigate environmental complaints (food, animal, water), commercial kitchen plan review

Greendale Board of Health 

Christopher Greenberg, Chairperson, Carol DeRoche, Secretary, Gregory Turay, Trustee Representative, Barbara Kampa, Member, Marilyn Shepard, RN, MSN, Member, Evonne Zalewski, Member, Sue Shepeard, RN, MSN, Health Officer, Dr. John Libing, Medical Advisor, Ex Officio

Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:

Week#44 Answer courtesy of Virginia Emmons – “There was a skating rink on the flooded tennis courts that stood on the site of the Popp building on Crocus and Broad St…... Earlier there was one at Brinkman Field and before that the skating rink was on Clover Lane about the 5900 block before the land was sold and those new homes were built in the 50s.

Week#43 Question – When was the Greendale Co-Operative established? What store was the first to open?

** Week #43 contributors Greendale Health Department: Sue Shepeard & Cristine Reischl, Village of Greendale: Sarah Jankowski, Greendale Patch, Greendale School District.



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