LISBON — The District of Columbia Health District received the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Award for its ongoing response to the East Palestine train derailment. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff praised the county and its staff as he presented the award to Columbia County Health Commissioner Dr. Wesley J. Vince at this year’s Ohio Public Health Conference.
The health district was involved in many aspects of the response, including the development and implementation of a drinking water sampling plan that provides sampling information for private water wells in the area and allows residents affected by the landslide to obtain water sampled for free by the health district and Norfolk Southern . With peace, this ongoing sampling program has provided a total of 442 sets of final sample results to date.
The health district led state and federal partners in opening and operating a temporary health assessment clinic at the First Church of Christ in East Palestine. This free clinic gave residents who had health questions or concerns about derailment an opportunity to speak with medical and mental health professionals. The clinic was open for 28 days and served 338 people. The District of Columbia Health District also initiated the establishment of a permanent health clinic located in East Palestine that is now operated by East Liverpool City Hospital and continues to serve residents with derailment-related health problems free of charge.
“This is a testament to our public health partnership from the local to the federal level.” Partners are our greatest strength. Our residents have benefited greatly from all the hard work that the health district employees and our public health partners have done and continue to do,” Vince said when asked what this award means to the department.
Vince also advocated for the residents of eastern Palestine in Washington, DC this March when he testified at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment. He focused on community recovery and the need for a long-term private well sampling program to ensure safe drinking water for homes affected by the derailment.
The District of Columbia Health District was founded in 1919 and received national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2022.
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