March 29, 2024

It’s National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week is April 1 – 7, 2024. It’s a week to promote and commemorate the work of public health. 

Public health covers a broad spectrum. It’s more than just people’s health care, it’s also working to make our indoor and outdoor environments safer and healthier. It’s making communities more connected and more resilient to emergencies both big and small. It’s about fighting discrimination and stigma to ensure that all people feel included and supported in their community. 

The Cambridge Public Health Department protects and promotes the health of everyone in Cambridge, particularly those who are most vulnerable, through services, information, policies, and regulations. Though the work is varied and vast, the department uses a health equity and racial justice lens to guide all of its initiatives. 

While the focus for the past years has been COVID-19, the Cambridge Public Health Department has returned to our robust in-person public health programming, ranging from oral health screenings for students to addressing environmental health concerns. 

And while COVID-19 is not the widespread threat it once was, it is likely here to stay. The health department continues to fight COVID-19 by offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines at our community clinics and reminding the public about the importance of prevention measures. Our clinical team–consisting of Public Health Nurses, Epidemiologists, and a Medical Director–continues to monitor COVID-19 cases in Cambridge in addition to other communicable diseases and foodborne illnesses that can occur in the community.

A lot of the work of the department involves collaboration with our city partners. 

  • The health department provides school health services in Cambridge Public Schools. Our School Health staff include registered nurses, vision and hearing specialists, and health assistants. They are responsible for a wide range of tasks such as linking families to primary care providers and other resources, and ensuring that all students are appropriately immunized.
  • The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Public Health Department also oversee biosafety as well as the care and use of laboratory animals. The Environmental Health Unit works on biosafety with its community partners as well as a variety of programs intended to protect people from environmental threats that can lead to poor health. Cambridge is unique in regulating the care and use of laboratory animals. The city’s ordinance provides oversight of research activities involving animals that exceeds the standard federal regulations. This oversight is performed by our Commissioner of Laboratory Animals, who is a licensed veterinarian, and ensures proper veterinary care and humane treatment throughout an animal’s time in a facility.
  • The Equity, Resilience and Preparedness Unit is working to help foster stronger neighborhoods in Cambridge. This includes working with the City to promote block parties. Not only are resilient and connected neighborhoods better equipped during emergencies, they also help combat the loneliness epidemic in our nation. This unit also manages the Cambridge Community Corps, a program of community ambassadors who respond to the needs of those who are most vulnerable and work to make Cambridge more informed and prepared for potential emergencies.
  • Our Population Health Initiative Unit promotes health behaviors in the Cambridge Community. The programs promote programming for early literacy and parental support, healthy eating and active living, as well as mental and behavioral health and substance use. This unit is out in the community learning the needs of the people in Cambridge and then creating programs and policies to address these needs. 

This is only a brief overview of all the work the health department. We hope by celebrating National Public Health Week, the department becomes even more connected with the Cambridge Community. 

To mark National Public Health Week, the health department is bringing back its Real World Public Health event on Thursday April 4. We’re excited to welcome students to the health department after missing the event during the pandemic. Real World Public Health is designed to help public health students learn what public health work is like outside of the classroom. Health department staff are honored to be recognized by Mayor Denise Simmons with a reception and a proclamation during National Public Health Week. We will also be promoting National Public Health Week via a public awareness campaign. Visit the Cambridge Public Health Departments’ website as well as visit their social media (Instagram, Facebook, and X/Twitter) to learn more about public health.