Health Department hires two new employees
As a parent, Shelley Worley says she understands the challenges of promoting a healthy family lifestyle within the regular confines of time and budget.
"We are active, we have schedules, we have budgets," Worley said. "I get that and I understand where parents are coming from."
Worley was hired as a health educator for the Summit County Health Department. She started two weeks ago. Her position will broadly focus on promoting healthy choices and physical activity throughout the community.
"My role is not clearly defined. I do have some projects that I will be working on with some childcare facilities and the schools, just to start," Worley said. "We are trying to get a jump on promoting healthy lifestyles at an early age, but this is not only for kids and students. We will be working with families as well."
Worley has lived in Park City for 27 years and says that familiarity helps facilitate her outreach within the community.
"It makes it easier for me as a parent to do these programs with the community, not only with schools, but with the families as well," Worley said.
Worley joins SaRene Brooks, who was also recently hired as a health educator. However, Brooks is stepping into a newly created role.
Brooks’ new position is being funded through a four-year Utah Department of Health grant, worth $62,500 per year. Similar funds were made available in the state through the Affordable Care Act. The program is intended to help communities establish primary preventative programs targeting chronic diseases.
The grant funds Brooks’ position and provides some start-up supplies for community projects.
Both positions are under the direction of Geri Essen, the health promotion director for the Health Department.
The Health Department has been exploring ways to branch out more in the community and establish partnerships with other agencies, Essen said, before adding the new position furthers that vision. The funding opportunities made available through the Affordable Care Act have been a long time coming, Essen said.
"I’ve been waiting for 20 years for this," Essen said. "There has always been a need to expand our programs."
Health Department officials have long recognized Summit County as a healthy community, but have cautioned of the increased health risks on the east side of the county compared to the west regarding diabetes and tobacco use. Through these positions, officials are hoping to educate a larger segment of the community, Essen said.
Brooks’ qualification as a registered dietician will be invaluable in helping establish local chronic disease and diabetes programs that will mirror some national programs that are starting to emerge, Essen said.
Since starting nearly three months ago, Brooks has been promoting nutrition options for active families and their kids in conjunction with the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District. Through recipes and snack suggestions, Brooks said she is trying to reduce the reliance on fast-food because of its convenience.
The prospect of stepping into a newly created position excited Brooks. She said it was indicative of the direction the county was heading regarding preventative care.
"I’m excited to have the opportunity to come in and find some new things that aren’t being done yet," Brooks said. "I would just really like to make a difference, even if it’s just for a few people at a time, to have a better quality of life and gain just a little bit of nutritional knowledge. It’s a chance for people in our community to make healthy lifestyle changes."
For Brooks, a Morgan County resident, it was her daughter’s experiences living with Type 1 diabetes that inspired her to go into dietetics.
"I’ve met some really great nutritionists along the way and saw how my child was able to manage her diabetes with their help," Brooks said. "Now that my children are growing up, it just seemed like a really rewarding opportunity to be able to work with people who are struggling with the same type of illness."
For more information about the programs and services offered through the Health Department, go to http://www.summitcountyhealth.org/health-promotion/physical-activity-nutrition/.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.