Disease Prevention in Children

Communicable disease has the potential to affect every county resident, but children often are at greater risk.

Some communicable diseases are spread by contaminated food or water. Others are spread by insects.

Some communicable diseases can be prevented with immunizations. Public health nurses immunize infants, children, teens, and adults against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Public health nurses investigate reports of communicable diseases that they receive from doctors, nurses, and hospitals. Other members of the Lewis and Clark City-County Health Department investigate illnesses that may have been caused by contaminated food or water or by infected insects.  These investigations help prevent communicable disease from spreading through the community.

Dental Health

Good oral health is important for children's overall health. A public health nurse coordinates a countywide screening program that uses school nurses, dental hygienists, and dentists to screen elementary school children (grades 3 and 4) for dental decay.

The local dental society arranges to assess children who are unable to pay for needed treatment. Children are seen in local dentists' offices and at the Cooperative Health Center dental clinic. The dental hygienists and school nurses provide dental education for children in grades 1 and 5.

Rural School Nursing

A part-time public health nurse who lives in Augusta provides services for that community. She manages communicable disease and maternal childcare and provides immunizations, public assistance, adult care information, first aid, and community education. She is also available to the community as needed.

Public health nurses teach prevention-oriented health lessons, conduct health screenings and referrals, and assess health concerns for rural schoolchildren. Once a month during the school year, a public health nurse travels to Wolf Creek and Canyon Creek schools to provide nursing services on contract. About 25 to 30 children are enrolled in these schools.

Health screening and referral for vision, hearing, dental, and scoliosis are conducted yearly. Assessment of immunization records each September ensures that all enrolled children are protected against childhood diseases as defined in state law.

Age-appropriate health education lessons are presented each month.  Teachers consult with the school nurse about health questions and concerns and student conditions. A public health nurse also offers health screenings for vision, hearing, and scoliosis at Lincoln School and checks immunization records for about 200 students there.