July – Who are we? We are Peterborough Public Health

Written by Comms Team, July 19, 2022

Finding ways to address the gaps in the health of the population.

When you think of the words “public health,” what comes to mind? You might think about a building or organization that makes rules or runs programs. Maybe it brings you back to daily COVID-19 updates and the difficulties of lockdowns. Maybe you’ve experienced some of our programs and have fond memories of prenatal programs, or the familiar friendly face of one of our public health inspectors visiting.

When I think of the words “public health,” I think about the health of the public. As a public health doctor, your medical officer of health, instead of seeing patients one at a time, my role is to look after communities. Instead of wearing a stethoscope, my team and I look at data, create programs and services, change policies and advocate for changes to make our region healthier and more fair.

Public health often uses a targeted approach to address the gaps in the health of the population. We look at factors that will help make someone live a long and happy life and try to give everyone those same opportunities. Through programs, policy development, and advocacy efforts, public health works on reducing those gaps to make our communities fairer and allow for everyone to have more opportunities to be healthy.

You’ve heard a lot about our work on the pandemic over the last two years, and while we’re still working to protect you against COVID-19, we are now getting back to our other important activities.

Today, I want to tell you about four staff so you can hear more about public health behind the scenes. Their stories and many more are going to be shared over the coming weeks in our “With These Hands” campaign that will be released on social media.

Let’s start with Jocelyn. Jocelyn is a health promoter working on preventing drug poisonings in our community. This is a big concern because the crisis of drug poisonings has been worsening in our region. Jocelyn works as part of a team supporting our new consumption and treatment service (CTS) by gathering data on drug poisonings and working to reduce the harms and improve health for people using drugs.

Since the beginning of 2022, Jocelyn has issued eight alerts to the community about a poisoned supply of drugs using data from our opioid early warning and surveillance system. These alerts bring partners and people who use drugs together and may help individuals to make informed decisions when using drugs and in turn saves lives.

Another member of our team is Pete. Pete is a community worker most often found whipping up a meal in the kitchen. Since 2008, Pete has taught over 2,000 cooking classes for families and single parents in our region. Having the skills to safely prepare food can go a long way to support nutritious eating habits and promote health throughout someone’s life.

Pete focuses on teaching parents how to cook healthy and affordable meals, how to shop on a budget, and how to properly save and preserve food to avoid food waste. Beyond cooking skills, Pete aims to change the culture around cooking. Some of his classes focus on the joy of working with food and connecting as a family through cooking and meal time.

While we’re on food, let me tell you about Ganesh. Ganesh is a public health inspector on our team. You may know Ganesh from visiting restaurants in our region and ensuring their food preparation is done in a way that is safe and prevents you getting sick when you eat out.

But Ganesh also helps to deliver our food handler certification courses. Ganesh has taught over 200 classes to provide people with the tools they need to prepare safe foods and pass the inspection when Ganesh stops by the restaurant later!

Finally, meet Laura. Laura is a public health nurse who is an expert in supporting new parents on the tough journey that is parenting. Laura might have an exhausting day helping with breastfeeding or answering questions about development or supports the family can access, but Laura knows her help may support skills and improve health for the rest of that child’s life.

These are just a few examples of the extensive work that PPH does. Over the next few months, Peterborough Public Health will be launching our new strategic plan to guide our work over the next three years. This plan will outline the directions we’ll be taking to support our community.

While we may not touch your life directly every day, know that Peterborough Public Health is working in the background to keep our community safe and healthy.

Learn more about our team by following @ptbohealth on social media.