The Public Health Nursing Program of the Cambridge Public Health Department focuses on communicable disease prevention and control, including response to new health threats such as pandemic flu, SARS, and bioterrorism.
The program’s core functions are tuberculosis prevention and control, coordinating the annual distribution of flu vaccine to medical providers, and conducting citywide flu clinics. Public health nurses also follow up on and monitor treatment for diseases that by law must be reported to local health departments. These range from common foodborne illnesses, like salmonella, to pertussis (whooping cough) and meningitis.
In addition, the nurses work with shelters, child care centers, schools, and local businesses to provide health care support, education, and guidance for Cambridge residents and workers. The nurses conduct community workshops about hygiene, infection control, wellness, and healthy lifestyles. The health department provides medical backup to several Cambridge child care centers and advises them on best practices and disease prevention. Since 2001, nurses have also provided guidance to local body art practitioners (i.e. tattoo and piercing parlors) on infection control and health education.