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MHS Grad Works to Help Uncas Health District

Lauren Davis grew up in Oakdale and is pursuing a master's degree in public health. And she is writing a blog here on the Montville Patch!

The Uncas Health District  is getting some help from an Oakdale native, whose blog posts also are appearing on the Montville Patch.

Lauren Davis grew up in Oakdale, and graduated from Montville High School in 2005. She earned her undergraduate degree at Indiana University  in environmental management, and is now working on her master’s degree in public health at the University of Connecticut in Farmington.

As part of that degree program, she’s interning with the Uncas Health District, to help educate people on public health issues and the public health system.

Davis says that when she was doing her undergraduate work, she began to see the connections between environmental health and public health.

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Pollution in the environment can have an effect on public health, she says.  Toxins in the groundwater, or in the ground itself, can find their way back to the population.

When she was taking a class in public health, the class was encouraged to approach their local health departments, and so Davis called up Patrick McCormack, director of the Uncas Health District, “and begged him to help me.”

Davis will focus on occupational and environmental health, and also injury prevention. Outreach, he says, will be a big part of her work.

And Patch is a part of that outreach. Davis has written a blog post on radon exposure – what it is, how to test for it, and how to deal with it – another example of environmental health having a potential effect on the population.

Today, she has another one, introducing public health nurse Cindy Arpin, and helping readers understand what a public health nurse does.

The Uncas Health District is also working on really introducing itself to the people in the area, and helping everyone to understand what they do.

“We’re doing things to prevent problems that will eventually directly impact you,” McCormack says.

Davis will be researching those sorts of health issues and writing about them in blog posts here on the Montville Patch. She is considering doing pieces on topics like bicycle safety, and how to be safe walking on the street.

For instance, health inspectors go out into the community and work to find and stop problems before they become epidemic. The inspectors visit restaurants and public buildings to determine whether there are problems, and also address larger – and seasonal – issues, educating people about, say, how standing water can lead to mosquito-borne diseases such as EEE, or how seniors can change their habits or their homes to minimize slipping and falling in the winter.

The Uncas Health District - check out its website by clicking here - covers Montville, Norwich, Sprague, Griswold, Voluntown, Lisbon and Bozrah. It's located at 401 West Thames St., Norwich (near the Norwich Inn) and the phone is 860-823-1189. It is funded in part by the state, and through grants, and by fees for service.

It offers help on topics such as:

  • Living with asthma
  • Food safety
  • Flu vaccines
  • Beaches
  • Tick-borne diseases

The help that Davis is providing is invaluable to the health district, McCormack says. It is difficult to attract young, public health workers to eastern Connecticut. There’s no school of public health here, and the region doesn’t have the cultural draw of Boston or even Hartford, he says.

“It’s not generally the place where you can get that young professional person who has a degree in public health.”

But for Davis, it was a natural. She’s “still living with Mom and Dad,” she says, laughing. “I can get out of paying rent for a little more time.”

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