“When we had the H1N1 epidemic in 2009-2010, it was the public health nurses who managed the distribution of vaccine, ran the county information line, investigated all reported cases and provided education both to the County internally and to the public at large.”
– Linda Ferguson, Supervising Public Health Nurse
Marin residents are the healthiest in the state, and Linda Ferguson and her team are working to keep it that way.
Linda and her team are involved directly in the surveillance, identification, assurance of treatment and mitigation of communicable diseases in Marin. This includes vaccines for preventable diseases such as pertussis, varicella (chicken pox), meningococcal, e-coli, salmonella, TB and STD, as well as, the annual influenza vaccine program and the Childhood Lead Poison Prevention Program.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH LINDA
1. What populations do you work with most often?
We serve all residents of the county, and most people do not purposefully seek our services. We strive to be supportive and caring while we discuss issues that can be frightening and embarrassing for our clients.
We work closely with school nurses to control disease outbreaks in schools and with skilled nursing facilities and day cares and preschools to protect our most vulnerable community members from what can be serious or even fatal disease. We provide intense case management for individuals with TB and are considered a low incidence county.
2. What kind of work does your team do?
We offer educational presentations on many related topics, both for professionals and the lay public. We do much education around immunizations and the need for "herd immunity" to protect the community from large disease outbreaks such as the 2010 pertussis outbreak.
3. What do you and your team consider a win?
It is always rewarding to work to stop the spread of any infectious disease and see positive results. We work very closely with the public health lab and the state to ensure that what we do makes a difference.
4. Who else is on your team?
I supervise very dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced public health nurses and public health investigators, and without our team the county would not be as healthy. This work is mandated by the state, but there is no mandate for how many or what level of staff should do this.
5. What would it mean if your department were downsized or eliminated?
If our program were downsized it would lead to longer response times for investigations and a lack of time to do our critical prevention work. Most county residents don't know quite what we do unless they are subject to one of the diseases we are required to investigate - but if we were not here, the consequences would be serious.