St. Mary's Co. Health Dept. News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

St. Mary's Co. Health Dept. News Briefs

Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership Launched in St. Mary’s County

The Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership is an emerging community-driven coalition of public and private partners working together to improve community health. Healthy St. Mary’s includes the efforts of its action teams, including Fit & Healthy St. Mary’s, Tobacco Free Living, and Behavioral Health. The partnership recently launched its new website to engage community organizations and residents in working towards a healthier St. Mary’s County.

“By partnering with organizations in the public and private sector, we can work together to better address priority health issues for St. Mary’s County,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, Health Officer. “The Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership will help this county promote the health of its residents.”

The Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership was developed as part of Maryland’s State Health Improvement Process (SHIP) to provide a blueprint for accountability, local action, and public engagement for improving the health of all Marylanders. The partnership locally prioritizes the SHIP’s objectives by developing and implementing strategies to improve public health here in St. Mary’s County. A variety of partners have been working to launch the effort including, among others, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, the St. Mary’s Minority Outreach Coalition, Walden Sierra Behavioral Health, and a variety of county government departments including the Health Department, Department of Aging and Human Services, and the Department of Social Services. More organizational partners are needed to make this partnership a success for St. Mary’s County.

For more information about the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership, please visit the website at

Health Department Suspends Seasonal Perc Testing

Due to declining seasonal groundwater levels, the St. Mary's County Health Department's Environmental Health Services Division suspended wet season perc testing on Friday, May 3. Conditions within a network of monitoring wells in the county confirm the declining groundwater levels.

Applications for perc tests received this season that have not yet been scheduled will be placed on hold and will be given priority when ground water levels are adequate for the next "wet season" expected in 2014. Applicants with applications on hold may request a refund; however, these applicants will then be required to resubmit an application for the next wet season perc testing and will lose their current position in line.

For more information about perc testing, please contact the Health Department's Environmental Health Services Division at 301-475-4321. Additional information on perc testing may also be found at the St. Mary's County Health Department website at

Health Department Joins Healthiest Maryland Businesses

The St. Mary's County Health Department has joined the list of Healthiest Maryland Businesses through its Workplace Wellness initiative. Workplace Wellness describes efforts by businesses and other employers to improve the health of their employees through strategies in the workplace. These efforts often encourage healthy eating, increasing physical activity in and out of the workplace, and smoking cessation. Working Marylanders spend an average of 9.2 hours per day at work. A comprehensive employee health management strategy helps to prevent and control chronic disease and other conditions that can be a problem for the workforce. The direct (including medical treatment costs, insurance premiums, disability claims) and indirect (including missed days of work, lower productivity, higher turnover) costs of poor employee health financially strain businesses and organizations across Maryland. By addressing employee health through workplace wellness initiatives, businesses can benefit from a significant return on investment.

The Health Department is implementing evidence-based strategies in its own workplace to encourage its employees to be healthier with technical assistance from MedStar St. Mary's Hospital. A cross-agency wellness committee is leading the work on this initiative. Strategies include an employee pedometer challenge, providing healthier snacks in vending machines, a "Lose to Win" weight loss competition, and exchange of healthy recipes. The Health Department has also set up a gym membership package available for employees to purchase through World Gym. Additionally, an employee health fair has been scheduled which will include health screenings and fitness demonstrations. More strategies will be implemented over the next several months.

"Workplace wellness initiatives ensure that everyone wins," said Tasha Henderson, the Health Department nurse who is leading the agency's Wellness Committee. "Workplaces should consider signing up with the statewide Healthiest Maryland Businesses effort to get access to free workplace wellness resources and technical assistance."

Healthiest Maryland Businesses is a statewide effort launched by Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in May 2010, and provides support to businesses and organizations implementing workplace wellness strategies. For more information about Healthiest Maryland Businesses, please visit

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