This starts a series of articles that focuses on the health department’s core values.
We have a handful of core values at our health department that form the foundation of who we are as an agency. Core values are our important beliefs about how we should act – they help define us, drive our mission and support our vision. When we hire new people, we’re not just looking for education, job skills and experience. We’re also looking for the best qualified people who share our core values.
The first core value I want to address is adaptability. It should be no secret that change is an inevitable part of life. As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change. So, to thrive, we better be able to adapt to new conditions.
At the Health Department, we expand this definition further: Adaptability is where we creatively apply technology, information, research and resources to effectively respond to the changing environment and changing needs of those we serve.
Some great examples of adaptability include:
- Our county health centers changed staffing schedules so that we could expand our appointment offerings. Providing appointments in the early morning, during lunch, and in evenings is adapting to the needs of our clients.
- To enhance the effectiveness of our food service manager training, the Environmental Health and Safety division adapted the written materials for the hands on exercises by translating them into the three most common languages of food service employees besides English – Spanish, Chinese and Hindi. This should improve understanding of the food safety concepts and performance of these principles in Northern Kentucky food service establishments.
- Our health educators must be flexible in their work with many community coalitions and schools. Each school and community is different, requiring adaptability in order to support changes in policies like complete streets and environments like tobacco-free schools.
- The opioid epidemic in Northern Kentucky has challenged us to adapt in many ways. We have enhanced our substance use prevention efforts; we coordinate the distribution of naloxone overdose reversal kits in the community to save lives; and we operate a syringe access exchange program to stop the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.
- We continually adapt to using new technology to educate and inform the public. Providing food inspection scores on our mobile website, displaying the depth and breadth of the opioid epidemic using GeoStory mapping, and sharing news through social media platforms helps us to get public health messages out and empower people to make healthy choices.
- With the recent retirement of our maintenance supervisor, we have made changes to how maintenance and courier services are provided. Staff at all of our sites are adapting to how facility fixes occur and when interoffice mail is picked up and delivered.
There are many other examples of our adaptability, too.Some transitions are smooth, but others may be bumpy. The important thing for all of us to remember when confronted with the discomfort of change is that change brings with it opportunity. This allows us to creatively use what we have to adapt to new situations and address problems and issues. Adaptability fuels our ability to always be the best health department that we can.