New public health nurse comes onboard
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Bridget Waller, RN, is the newly appointed public health nurse at the Texas Department of State Health Services, Region 8, for Bandera County. During a March, meeting, Waller offered county commissioners an overview of the current program. She arrived here approximately eight weeks ago.
Along with clerk Alma Lovett, Waller is located with the Health and Human Services Commission in Bandera. Lillian Ringsdorf, MD, MPH, serves as current Region 8 medical director and Dr. David Lakey is health commissioner.
Among others, Region 8 is comprised of Bandera, Kerr, Real, Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Comal and Gillespie counties.
"All diseases required to be reported to the State of Texas that occur in this county are investigated by the Region 8 staff with assistance by our office as needed," Waller said, adding, "Treatment and follow-up on TB (tuberculosis) is a priority."
In 2011, a possible case of TB was discovered in a high school in Del Rio. By the time laboratory results confirmed the diagnosis, 283 students, faculty and staff had possibly been exposed and needed to be tested.
Additionally, Waller's office continues to administer vaccines to eligible children through the Texas Vaccines for Children Program. Other local providers participating in the Texas Vaccines for Children Program are Bandera Family Practice Clinic and Medina Lake Clinic, she said.
"At our Bandera office, we also have limited vaccines for uninsured or underinsured adults," Waller added. The site also offers testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Recapping activities during the past year, she indicated that local personnel had participated in county health fairs, distributing literature on nutrition and maternal and child health care.
Also, Waller noted that two dental providers and three medical providers had been recruited to participate in the Texas Health Steps program. Texas Health Steps provides health check ups, immunizations, case management and dental benefits for children receiving Medicaid from birth to age 20.
"The former public health nurse and Alma were also instrumental in reviving the Child Fatality Review Committee as an individual team from Bandera County, rather than being a part of four counties," Waller said.
As a certified child passenger safety technician through the Safe Rider's Program, Waller can check for car seat installation safety and offer proper installation techniques. "I've participated in child safety seat checkup events in surrounding counties within Region 8 and look forward to providing these services in Bandera County," she said.
Regarding emergency preparedness and response, which continues to be a priority, Waller attended Mass Fatality 101 training this past year. The training focused on the processes involved while responding to a mass fatality and the chain of command during the emergency.
As part of the Department of State Health Services, Carolyn Rutherford reviewed activities necessary to ensure Bandera County is prepared for emergencies such as equipping and opening shelters as necessary in the event of fires and floods. Rutherford especially lauded Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed for her efforts.
"All emergencies are local," Rutherford said, "and our agency is committed to support Bandera County in any way we can."
For her part, Waller told commissioners, "I look forward to serving the citizens of Bandera County and will make every effort to fulfill my duties as public health nurse to the best of my ability."