#RealWorldHIE – District Health Department #10

Written by: Emmalilly Hoxsie

Stopping the spread of communicable diseases

District Health Department (DHD) #10 is the largest geographic health department in Michigan. The department serves ten northern Michigan counties including Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana, and Wexford. Their mission is to promote and enhance the health of communities and environment through protection, prevention, and intervention.

The DHD #10 Communicable Disease and Epidemiology program monitors the occurrence of specific diseases across the ten counties. Communicable diseases can be transmitted from person to person (or animal to human) via direct contact with body fluids, ingesting contaminated food or water, inhalation of contaminated air, or the bite of an infected insect. Monitoring and responding to communicable diseases is critical to achieving their mission.

It Adds Up

One or two cases in one physician’s office or in a specific county may not raise alarm. However, aggregating cases together reveals trends. This aggregation and the case investigation is the first steps in a coordinated public health response.

“The main goal of the Communicable Disease and Epidemiology program is to help stop the spread of diseases,” says, Doreen B, a Registered Nurse and the Communicable Disease Coordinator for DHD #10. Doreen explain what is needed, “When we are investigating diseases we need to have test results and the patient’s medical history and physical to determine if it is an actual case of a reportable disease.” She continued, “Before we started using VIPR we sometimes waited weeks before we had the necessary information and sometimes we just did not get it. We now go directly to VIPR when we get a reportable disease. It helps us determine if we need to do further investigation.”

Just In Time Health Information Exchange

Doreen shared a real life example, “We recently got a case reported of Hepatitis A on a Sunday and by looking the patient up in VIPR we were able to determine that it was a confirmed case. The person was incarcerated and we were able to get into the jail and vaccinate that day to help prevent that one case from turning into an outbreak.”

The DHD #10 Medical Director, Communicable Disease nurses, and Epidemiologists all use VIPR. Doreen concluded, VIPR “has diminished frustrations that we all experienced. It is great! It extremely helpful to have medical information at our finger tips.” DHD #10 staff received VIPR training during an in-person training with a GLHC Implementation Consultant and now use the website resources to train new staff.

Learn more about District Health Department #10 on their website, www.dhd10.org.

Get VIPR access by contacting your local GLHC Implementation Consultant.

This blog is part of the #RealWorldHIE series, highlighting the successes of Great Lakes Health Connect participants.