Friday, May 11, 2012

News from Northwest Georgia Public Health

(Media Release) Shaun Brand, environmental health manager for both the Chattooga and Dade county health departments in northwest Georgia, was honored at the recent 2012 Georgia Public Health Association annual meeting. Brand received the association's Environmentalist of the Year award in recognition of his work developing innovative training programs and materials to help the Georgia Department of Public Health's Environmental Health Office -- and environmental health staff in the state's county health departments -- transition from an old-fashioned, tedious, paper-based reporting system to a new, real-time, digital system designed to improve service and efficiency.

For the public, the most visible and useful aspect of the new statewide data-collection system is the instantaneous posting on the internet of food-service inspection details and scores as inspections are made in the field. However, staff now use the same digital technology for all aspects of environmental health work, including everything from lodging-facility inspections, sewer-and-septic permits and pool inspections to rabies control and body-art facility inspections.

The ten-county Northwest Georgia Public health district was selected to test a beta version of the new system. Brand immersed himself in learning its capabilities and intricacies. As he reviewed the user's guide developed and provided by the software company, he began hearing complaints from other environmental health staff that the system was difficult to use and the user's manual difficult to understand.

Brand agreed and took initiative to develop an innovative, new user's guide. His guide incorporated simple step-by-step instructions and diagrams showing how to operate the new system. He also developed troubleshooting instructions. Brand ultimately created an easily comprehended, user-friendly guide for users with all levels of computer skills.

He then trained environmental health staff throughout the ten-county Northwest Georgia Public Health district to use the new system, overcoming their initial frustration and dislike. Brand's training materials and methods were eventually adapted by other public health districts throughout the state and used to introduce the new system, expediting statewide transition to it.

Brand is a ten-year Northwest Georgia Public Health employee and lives in Rome with his wife, Heather.

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