“Address is 911 S. Ballancee Avenue. Located in the small building just north of Niobrara Community Hospital, entrance is on the east end of the building. Look for the Public Health signs”. The directions are straight from Sally Myer, Niobrara County’s current Public Health Nurse since October of 2016. Myer, a registered nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, has been a RN for thirty-five years. Her training includes being a CPHQ—Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality and finishing her Master of Science in Quality Assurance. In addition to her work as the Niobrara County Public Health (NCPH) Nurse, Myer has also taken on a job at the hospital as the Infection Preventionist, though she says the jobs are “completely separate”.
Since taking the Public Health job in 2016, Myer says, “Due to the diverse set of services that Public Health delivers and the high service standards set by the Wyoming Department of Health, I have been training much of the time since I started. I’m finally ready to deliver services now”.
Services that Myer is prepared to offer through the NCPH will include, but are not limited to, immunizations for adults and children, maternal-child health support through home visits for pregnant women and new mothers for up to two years, disease education for adults on any condition but particularly on chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and communicable disease management-tuberculosis testing and sexually transmitted infection (STI) education, testing and treatment. While much of the services she offers sound like something that would be done at a hospital, Myer clarifies there is a difference, “the main difference is that while hospitals’ and clinics’ main purpose and focus is on treating ill individuals and the relationship tends to be long-standing, Public Health’s emphasis is on preventing illness and injury through education and support to the community with client interactions being episodic”.
In fact, Public Health being associated with the hospital is one of the miscommunications that Myer hopes to dissolve, “Niobrara County Public Health is provided through a contract between Niobrara County and the Wyoming Department of Health. I am employed by the Wyoming Department of Health”. The second misconception she hopes to remedy is that services offered by Public Health are only for those on Medicaid or those without insurance, “It [Public Health] is an alternative to going to your doctor’s office for some services and it is the best place to go for education by a RN since doctors’ offices are normally limited in the time they can spend educating. NCPH asks for payment of $15.00 nursing service fee for some services but will not deny service to anyone for inability to pay”. Clearing the misconception is part of a long-term goal for Myer, “I’d like NCPH to become readily known as a resource for all Niobrara County residents for education and support from an experienced RN on all aspects of health”.
Under NCPH, Myer will also be the Public Health Emergency Response; a position that will require her to work with the county to form response plans should an emergency situation arise. According to Myer, in preparing for these situations, she will be working with Niobrara County Emergency Management, the hospital, the school district, and WWC to ensure everyone is on the same page. In addition, Myer says, “I would be happy to provide education to groups on any health-related topics that are of interest to the community”.
Moving forward from training to services, an upcoming project Myer would like to work with will include preventing falls with seniors that still reside at home while maintaining her current office hours and hoping to expand on some walk-in hours. Current hours are most Mondays followed by Wednesday-Friday from 8:00-5:00pm. For now, walk-in hours will be on Mondays as much as possible. The Public Health number is 334-4032, a one-person office, Myer adds, “If I am out of the office or with a client, you may leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as possible. It [Public Health] is a service to residents provided by the county to help them be as healthy as they can be”.