By REBECCA HAZEN
Services at the Dade County Health Department are ramping back up after over two years of focusing primarily on COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and Nurse Manager Tammy Franklin encourages all county residents to take advantage of what the department has to offer.
The Dade County Health Department offers and focuses on prevention-based care for residents.
“We do not have a doctor here, but we have nurses that are specialized, called expanded role nurses,” Franklin said.
The department offers many different services, including family planning, STD and HIV testing, treatment and counseling, and immunizations for adults and children. Testing and treatment for tuberculosis is also available.
Also, the department can provide Georgia WIC benefits to low-income families after they complete a nutrition assessment and a health screening.
Infants can get metabolic and hearing screenings at the Health Department. Children can get hearing, vision, and dental screenings when they start school.
Programs are also available for high-risk children, such as Babies Can’t Wait, which is Georgia’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. Also, the Children 1st program assists families in recognizing and addressing needs that affect their capacity to provide healthy, safe, and nurturing environments for their children.
In addition, cancer screenings for women over the age of 40 are available.
“They can come in for their wellness exams, and we have an income-based program where we can send them to get a free mammogram each year. If they are diagnosed with cancer, we can help get them on Medicaid,” Franklin said.
Certain lab services are also offered, such as blood tests that show immunity for diseases such as chicken pox, which is often needed by students about to attend college.
The Health Department also partners with the local community for outreach, for example, they have participated with a booth during the Blue Ribbon Glow Run event, and the 1945 Dade County Fair. They also partner with the schools each year for flu shots, for both the students and the teachers. They also go to Covenant College and administer flu shots there as well.
Franklin noted that focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic for so long was hard, especially in the beginning.
“We were like everybody else; we didn’t know what COVID-19 was all about. It was a novel virus, and we found out more about it on a daily basis. Just because we were the Health Department, didn’t mean that we knew more,” Franklin said.
Franklin noted that the Health Department had to remain open for certain services, such as tuberculosis and STDs, but a lot of those services were no longer being held face-to-face.
For about two years, the majority of the services that the Health Department offered related to the pandemic were testing and then vaccinations.
“Now, we’re kind of having to relearn our programs. So much has changed in two years, and we are having to go back and do training to make sure that we know the protocols for the programs. We’re trying to get the word back out to people that we’re open. Come see us,” Franklin said.
The Health Department is located at 71 Case Avenue, Ste H-100, in the Dade County Administrative Building. The department is open Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Health Department asks patients to call in the morning and make a same-day appointment.
The Health Department accepts all major types of insurance. There is a self-pay option for people who do not have health insurance.
“We never turn anybody away. We will work with them if they don’t have money. We can set someone up on a payment plan,” Franklin said.
For a full list of programs offered at Dade County Health Department, and other departments across the Northwest Health District, visit nwgapublichealth.org/programs/. For more information, visit nwgapublichealth.org/counties/dade/ or call (706) 657-4213. The department can be found under Dade County Health Department on Facebook.