Two decades of public health service

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On June 2, the Barry County Health Department surprised Carol Landstad, public health program coordinator, with a celebratory roast in honor of the 20 years of service she has provided for the local community.

"Public health nursing has always been my main interest," said Landstad. "Public health covers so many areas and public health nursing combines my love of nursing with my love of teaching."

Prior to joining the local health department staff, Landstad, who received her education at Southeast Missouri State University and St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing in Bethlehem, Pa., spent two and a half years in the United States Air Force Nurses Corps. She also served in intensive care units, operating rooms and public health departments in eastern Missouri.

Landstad began serving Barry County residents in 1988 after her husband, Pete, accepted the superintendent's position at Roaring River State Park in 1987.

"I was very excited to get back into the field of public health," said Landstad. "I was excited to serve the community as a whole. Public health is not just about individuals, but about families and the overall health of the community."

Over the last two decades, Landstad has watched the local health department double in size and extend more services to northern Barry County by opening a satellite office in Monett.

Landstad noted that 20 years ago the Barry County Health Department concentrated on children's wellness and prenatal women's clinics, services that were not widely offered in the county at that time.

"Public health is about promoting health awareness and prevention," said Landstad. "We try to make sure all areas are covered. Back then, there was no prenatal care available in Barry County. There are more physicians covering the county now."

In addition to the increased number of physicians working in Barry County, each area school district now employs a school nurse, who promotes children's health within the district.

"Public health is moving into community collaborations with not only governmental agencies but private interests as well," said Landstad. "We are helping to make others aware that they need to promote their own health."

Although today the health department concentrates on providing communicable disease education, it continues to offer programs for young parents and students, as well as cardiac and stroke awareness programs for adults.

At the local health department, Landstad wears several hats to promote public health and education, but she is probably most well known for services she provides as the department's resident nurse.

"When people ask me what I do I tell them that I make children cry," said Landstad, referring to the amount of time she spends providing immunization shots for Barry County's youth. "If I haven't made a child cry, I probably haven't done my job that day."

Landstad shared a memory in which a kindergarten student, who received an immunization at the Cassville office, recognized her at a local grocery store.

"It was a day when I had given a lot of shots," said Landstad. "He glanced at me, and I smiled. I saw him slide closer to his mother and say, 'There's the shot lady.'

"Immunization is such a big part of what I do," said Landstad. "When I started here, there were seven diseases that we vaccinated against. Now we are up to 16. We are seeing less diseases because of that."

Health Department staff members work each day to raise health awareness and promote prevention programs, said Landstad, who takes pride in the changes and improvements that have been made in the county over the years.

"Public health is my passion and love," said Landstad. "Serving the public has been a big motivation for me over the years. Plus, the co-workers, the administration and the health boards that I have worked with have really been supportive."

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