Because County Executive Hein cares about the health and wellbeing of Ulster County residents, at the start of his administration he created a Healthy Ulster agenda that has steadily moved Ulster County on its way toward becoming the healthiest county in New York State.
Choosing 1st Rate Health Leaders
The first step in the County Executive’s plan of action was to recruit and appoint Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, a noted physician with world-class credentials, to become Ulster County ‘s new Public Health Director. At the same time, he named Dr. Debra Karnasiewicz, the founder and director of the Women’s Health and Fitness Foundation and a local internist with a thriving medical practice, as his Special Advisor on Health. The County Executive also appointed two highly regarded area physicians and specialists to the Ulster County Board of Health.
In less than one year, under the County Executive’s direction and leadership and Dr. Hasbrouck’s guidance, the Ulster County Department of Health was transformed from a below average County bureaucracy into a high-performance model Health Department in New York State. As a result, the Ulster County Department of Health is now recognized as one of the best public health departments in New York.
The County Executive’s efforts to improve the health of County residents went well beyond engaging medical professionals and implementing internal structural changes. He enlisted representatives and leaders from every sector of the community, including business, non-profit, educational and faith based organizations, to participate in developing and carrying out a strategic plan (Partners in Public Health), specifically designed to ensure that Ulster County would not only become the healthiest county in New York, but that it would remain so for many years to come.
Creating Healthy Initiatives
Just a few of the healthy initiatives created during the first two years of the County Executive’s administration are:
- Vaccines for the Vulnerable – Offering seasonal vaccinations to the underserved populations of Ulster County.
- Healthy Ulster Anti-Childhood Obesity Campaign – Reducing the childhood and adolescent obesity epidemic in Ulster County.
- Anti-bullying Webinar for school children –Creating Ulster County’s first anti-bullying Webinar was designed to increase awareness, among children, adults and educators, to the serious consequences and dangers of bullying in our schools and lives.
- Ulster County Against Domestic Violence Month -Bringing together representatives from the law enforcement, the judicial system, media and treatment communities, along with victims of domestic violence, to communicate the importance and urgency of this issue to a wider audience.
- Tobacco Free Association of Ulster County – Partnering with TFAC, local municipal leaders and educators to restrict smoking in all public recreation areas and to reduce, if not eliminate, tobacco marketing targeted to our children.
- Healthy Steps to Albany School Challenge – Developed, together with Special Advisor on Health Dr. Karnasiewicz, teams of Ulster County middle school students to compete in the New York State First Lady’s Healthy Steps to Albany School Challenge.
- Healthy Ulster Week – Hosted the 1st Annual Healthy Ulster Week from May 8 – 15, 2011 in order to encourage residents to exercise more, eat better and take control of their health. He invited area businesses to participate by offering a “Healthy Ulster Special” during that week.