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  • Pauline Hoffmann

Public health is where you are

This editorial appeared in the April 7, 2022 edition of the Olean Times Herald



As National Public Health Week (April 4 to April 10) winds down, we should reflect on the importance of the public health institutions in our community. While we may all be suffering Covid fatigue it’s important to remember that the health of our communities is more than just surviving a pandemic.


The American Public Health Association celebrates the successes of public health organizations around the country the first full week in April each year. Public health is wide-reaching, impacting nearly every aspect of our daily lives from vaccines, to primary care, to mental health, to livable neighborhoods, and safe drinking water.


The public health system here in Cattaraugus County has been on the frontlines of the pandemic and is also working to improve the lives of those who live and work in our communities – our neighbors, our family members, our friends.


Each day of National Public Health Week has a theme and your health department has been hard at work addressing and continuing to address the disparities and inequities in our community. We know that we are rural and as such have fewer resources than larger urban areas. We also know we have a strength of spirit and commitment to our neighbors that many communities don’t have. We care about one another and hope for collective success.


Each day of National Public Health Week focused on a theme or issue facing public health. More information may be found at www.nphw.org.


Monday, April 4: Racism: A Public Health Crisis

Racist inequities in health care, income, housing, and education have widened during the COVID-19 pandemic, harming health and well-being. While Cattaraugus County is not as diverse as other counties we still have underrepresented and marginalized populations who face inequities in health care, particularly. Your county public health department is committed to erasing inequities.


Tuesday, April 5: Public Health Workforce: Essential to our Future

The public health workforce is essential to our future. We would like to thank everyone who’s worked in public health for all they do and have done, particularly during the pandemic. In addition to making sure we stayed on top of contact tracing and providing vaccines, many in the Cattaraugus County Health Department (CCHD) helped the community in other essential ways by delivering groceries and ensuring other necessities were accessible.


Wednesday, April 6: Community: Collaboration and Resilience

This is where we excelled and excel in our County! We were and are resilient in the face of adversity. We take care of one another. We must continue to work together to improve housing, education, food, transportation and the environment to support equity, resilience and the health of our communities and the people who live, work, play and learn here.



Thursday, April 7: World Health Day: Health is a Human Right

While we may not be thinking globally when we are struggling locally, it is important to remember that we are members of a wider community. We can and did learn from what was happening in other parts of the world. We also continue to work together to make the world a safer place for everyone.


Friday, April 8: Accessibility: Closing the Health Equity Gap

We can close the health equity gap by reducing health disparities in health insurance, increasing physical accessibility to care, improving availability of appropriate care and building more inclusive public health programs and communities. The CCHD is committed to closing the health equity gap.


Saturday, April 9: Climate Change: Taking Action for Equity

We may think climate change doesn’t adversely affect us in Cattaraugus County, but we will feel its effects in the supply chain and other outlets. Climate change also disproportionately affects persons of color and those with lower incomes worldwide.


Sunday, April 10: Mental Wellness: Redefining the Meaning of Health

Each year, one in five Americans will experience mental illness. Mental health is public health. Prevention, early detection and treatment of mental health conditions can lead to improved physical and community health. We recognize the need for additional mental health resources in our county and are making this one of our top priorities for the coming years.


National Public Health Week highlights the many areas in which public health may have an impact. We would like to thank those in our community who work tirelessly on public health issues and those who support our work. We are here for everyone because public health is where you are.


Pauline Hoffmann is an Associate Professor and former dean of the Jandoli School of Communication. She is also a Senior Health Fellow in the NYS Public Health Fellowship Corp working with the Cattaraugus County Department of Health.

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