Beth Luthy and Mountainland Head Start honored during National Public Health Week
PROVO UTAH (April 3, 2012) - - As part of National Public Health Week, the Utah County Health Department and Board of Health traditionally honors one individual and one organization for their efforts and dedication to the health and welfare of the citizens of Utah County. This year, they are honoring Beth Luthy and Mountainland Head Start.
For over 40 years Mountainland Head Start has been providing an outstanding preschool experience for several hundred at risk children in many locations in Utah County. They are currently serving families of about 800 children, many of whom have developmental disabilities. The Head Start Program includes comprehensive evaluation of the children's physical and mental health which includes medical and dental exams, lab testing, immunizations, fluoride supplements, speech and hearing screenings, and nutritional and social behavior evaluations. A parents' Policy Council helps oversee the preschool activities and thousands of parent volunteer hours within the schools. Teachers from the classrooms also make home visits to the children's homes to understand their home environment and to encourage parent involvement in their children's development and education.
Left to Right: Commissioner Gary Anderson, Commissioner Larry Ellertson, Dr. Joseph Miner, Kristin White, Commissioner Doug Witney, Carol Martin, and Sonia Pineda.
For nearly five years beginning in 1979 Mountainland Head Start administered the Women's Infants and Children's (WIC) public health nutrition services to Utah County families. After Mountainland Head Start demonstrated the cost effectiveness of this very successful public health nutrition program it was transferred to the programs within the Utah County Health Department.
The tremendous success of childhood immunizations over the past 60 years or so has created a challenge for Public Health. Since the horrible consequences of vaccine preventable diseases are rarely seen anymore it is difficult to convince young parents today that immunizations still are extremely important in protecting not only the health of their own children but also very importantly the health of everyone else's children around them. One of our most enthusiastic advocates for keeping young parents motivated to get their children fully immunized is Dr. Beth Luthy.
Left to Right: Commissioner Gary Anderson, Commissioner Larry Ellertson, Dr. Joseph Miner, Commissioner Doug Witney, Beth Luthy and her husband, Michael Luthy.
Dr. Luthy, a professor of nursing at Brigham Young University, started her career as a Public Health Nurse at the Utah County Health Department. As she left to pursue her Master and Doctorate Degrees in nursing she has not forgotten her public health roots. She has made it an important part of her research and mission to understand what motivates parents to immunize their children and then implement strategies which keep parents immunizing their children. Dr. Luthy has published research on this subject and for several years chaired our Utah County Childhood Immunization Coalition of representatives from throughout the County who are working to keep our children safe from these deadly vaccine preventable diseases.
"I have often a large part of public health in our communities is done by individuals and agencies who are not part of the public health department," said Dr. Joseph Miner, UCHD executive director. "These are our local partners who are dedicated to improving the health of our communities. Beth and Mountainland Head Start represent some of the best among these partners. This is why we honor them as our 'Friends of Public Health.'"
Luthy and representatives from Mountainland were presented plaques at the weekly Utah County Commissioners Meeting this morning.
The Utah County Health Department is committed to promoting the health of our community, preventing avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community, and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. For information on UCHD programs or services, please visit www.UtahCountyHealth.org or call 801-851-7000. You can also now follow the UCHD on at www.twitter.com/uchd or www. FaceBook.com/uchealth.