The first of a three-part series aimed to advance the interests of Pasco County women took place on March 4 at the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library, on Collier Parkway.
All of the meetings, being presented by the Pasco County Commission on the Status of Women and the Pasco County Commission, are being held at the library, and are free and open to the public.
The theme of the first part of the series was “Health and Wellness.”
Guest speakers Mike Napier, of the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County, and Sarah Cobelli, of BayCare Behavioral Health, shared pertinent information relating to women’s health issues.
“Virtually everything we do at the health department is in partnership with someone else,” explained Napier, administrator for the Florida Department of Health — Pasco County.
The department works with Moffitt Cancer Center, Premier Community Healthcare Group and other partners.
They work to bring awareness to issues such as cervical and breast cancer, and provide information about treatment options.
The department also receives government funding, which is used to provide screenings.
Efforts also are being made to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A, and the health department is receiving assistance in this effort from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Napier said.
Through this collaboration, vaccinations are offered in the jail system, Napier explained.
“The good news is, it’s almost 97 percent – after you’ve had those shots – that you’ll be immune to any Hepatitis A,” Napier said.
Napier also advocates child vaccination for Hepatitis A and for the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Napier dispelled the notion that HPV is always linked to physical intercourse, stating that the stigma makes parents hesitant about vaccinating their children.
Teenage pregnancy, however, is a reality that the department addresses through its family planning program.
“It’s very difficult when we see moms coming in at 16-17 [and] trying to get them to finish school,” Napier said. “We’ve got to do something about that.”
The program offers testing, counseling and various contraceptive methods.
It also works in conjunction with schools to make sure students are well-educated and have a resource to call for help.
Tobacco use is another area of local concern, Napier pointed out.
“Unfortunately, Pasco County continues to have some of the highest smoking rates in the state,” the administrator said.
As of last year, 21 percent of adult Pasco residents were chronic smokers, according to the health department.
It also noted in a 2013 study that 22 percent of women in the county were smokers – significantly in the 18 to 44 age range.
The health department is working with medical institutions to distribute and collect health surveys.
The effort allows hospitals and other health care facilities to share medical information, and to better identify health trends based on demographics.
“It’s going to be consistent with all the hospitals and the health industry, to be able to say, ‘We all see the same data and now we’re going to try to act on that data,’” Napier stated.
The administrator also noted that providing mental health care to women who need it remains challenging.
Cobelli provided a presentation focused on behavioral health and substance abuse among women.
As a program manager for BayCare, she oversees community-based services for both children and adults.
“One of the newer additions to BayCare – within the last couple of years – is behavioral health integration, that especially females find comfort in,” Cobelli said.
This program is a convenient means for women to see their primary care physician and speak with a mental health counselor within the same office.
Another outreach program allows nurses, with a mobile medical unit, to go outdoors informing the homeless about medical resources and housing that may be available to them.
There’s also outreach to teenage mothers.
With the help of case managers, another state-funded program provides intervention for pregnant or postpartum women struggling with substance abuse.
For the 2018 fiscal year, Cobelli stated: “About 65 percent of the women that are enrolled have a primary diagnosis of an opioid disorder.”
There are also services available to women outside the program to help with essentials, such as car seats, strollers and baby formula.
BayCare encourages women with substance abuse, who are coming out of jail, to attend its group meetings three times a week.
With the Alternatives to Incarceration Pasco program, BayCare works with the Sheriff’s Office to establish special services for those with substance disorders.
The second part of the series, focused on Economic Prosperity, will be held on April 8.
The third part of the series, focused on Safety and Access, will be presented on May 6.
For more information visit, PascoCountyFL.net/2662/Commission-on-Status-of-Women.
Women’s lecture series presented by the Pasco County Commission on the Status of Women and the Pasco County Commission
Where: Land O’ Lakes Library meeting room, 2818 Collier Parkway, Land O’ Lakes
When: Upcoming sessions are planned on Economic Prosperity on April 8 and Safety & Access on May 6. Both sessions start at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: Free to public
Details: A series of presentations from guest speakers will discuss educating and advancing Pasco County women
Info: Visit PascoCountyFL.net/2662/Commission-on-Status-of-Women.
Published March 20, 2019