Salem joining health district
Salem - On a table of pamphlets and newsletters in the Town Offices are new piles of colorful and informational booklets, magnets and bookmarks, featuring headlines like "50 snacks with 100 calories or less," "Heart attack warning signs," and "Know your numbers," a journal with charts for medical information and history.
They are all provided by the Uncas Health District, which Salem will join on Tuesday.
Uncas Health District is a nonprofit provider of local public health services, from environmental services like restaurant inspections and water testing, to health education programs and seminars, and social health services like collaborating with local pharmacies to support smoking cessation programs.
Before joining the health district, Salem had been employing part-time workers to handle some of these services individually, and some services were not covered at all.
"We were providing the basics, just the bare minimum," said First Selectman Kevin Lyden.
He said that joining Uncas Health District will "provide much more services than we've been able to offer our residents. It's a regional approach ... We're able to offer a lot more for the same cost."
Some of the expanded programs will include educational services aimed at informing the public and preventing issues before they arise, said Patrick McCormack, the health director of the Uncas Health District.
Uncas Health will be able to offer more education services, reaching out to people for subjects including cardiac health issues, ticks, lead, asbestos, and healthy homes inspections, said Lyden.
"They're very willing to participate and educate our residents," he said.
In addition to education, Uncas Health will be able to act as a liaison connecting residents to doctors, specialists and pharmacies and will also look for opportunities to collaborate with programs and groups that already exist within the town, said McCormack.
"The best part about a town like Salem is that they have resources within the community that are existing that probably have been untapped," said McCormack, who has already visited with the pharmacy, senior center and superintendent of schools about potential collaborations.
Another benefit that McCormack said Salem residents can anticipate is increased access to resources now that health services will be organized by one body.
"Now we're available the 45 hours a week that we're open," in addition to 24-hour emergency access, he said. Residents will also have access to the recently redesigned Uncas Health District website, www.uncashd.org, which McCormack said is easier to navigate than the previous site.
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