The Newsmagazine of Long Beach Island and Southern Ocean County
Monique M. Demopoulos
Peter Curatolo, a coordinator for the Ocean County Health Department for about 14 years, gave a presentation on the many resources offered by the health department during the Sept. 6 Tuckerton Borough Council meeting.
“I oversee the Community Health Improvement Plan. It’s a legislated part of the public health practice standards. To that end, it’s my responsibility to get out to every geographic location in our county and support every demographic group in our county.”
Ocean County has the largest health department in the state aside from the state department itself. Its flagship building is situated at 175 Sunset Ave. in Toms River, “but we have buildings throughout the county.”
Having grown up in Toms River, he recalled riding past that very building on his bicycle, never knowing all of its offerings. About 95% to 99% of what the department offers, he explained, is free for county residents.
“We’re inside the schools. We’re here for our schoolchildren and our senior citizens and everyone in between.”
For example, OCHD serves about 18,000 families a month in its WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a plethora of resources for the homebound elderly who may not be able to leave their homes in cases of emergency (Curatolo cited the upcoming hurricane season) or for other preventive care, such as vaccinations and other critical appointments.
The department also has a program called Live Healthy in Ocean County, whereby registered nurses, diabetes specialists, dental care professionals and other health educators provide a “one stop shop health clinic” for employees of participating businesses. The program can be quite beneficial for individuals without health insurance to glean some insight into their health by way of free bloodwork and testing provided by the department.
“Again, there’s no charge,” he reiterated. “We will work with the DPW; we will work with your rec department; we want to work with your schools.”
There is also help for those suffering in various stages of substance use disorder. “If you know someone who is in the throes of addiction, who needs treatment, we have a little over a million dollars each year to send county residents to treatment across the entire care continuum, from medically monitored detoxification, to detoxing in-patient, intensive outpatient, outpatient one time only and on to a prevention program.”
OCHD looks out for its four-legged residents as well, with two animal facilities: the Northern Ocean County Animal Facility in Jackson, and the Southern Ocean County Animal Facility in Manahawkin.
The facilities host various adoption events throughout the year, and Curatolo emphasized each pet adopted is microchipped and up to date on vaccinations.
The hope of the department is to be an added support to the community.
“We have no horse in the race other than to serve you,” he concluded. “I ask respectfully for you to spread the word on the services that we have.”
Visit ochd.org to learn all about the resources available to every resident. Those without internet access may call 732-341-9700. The toll-free number is 800-342-9738.
— Monique M. Demopoulos
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