COLUMBIA – Public health leaders have been working day and night to respond to the coronavirus.

But it is not all they do. Mid-Missouri public health organizations promote well-being in a variety of ways; but a global pandemic still takes precedence.

"When COVID happened there were a number of staff members in the public health department that had their job duties changed a little bit to focus on COVID," said Sara Humm, a public information specialist for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Although the department has been busy with vaccine rollout and COVID-19 education, it also has kept up its traditional mission.

"We do all kinds of stuff, from animal control to social services and environmental health types of things," Humm said. "We do testing in our clinic for things like pregnancy tests and HIV and TB, and we also give out things like condoms and do pregnancy planning."

There was initial fear that healthcare topics like reproductive health might take a backseat to the virus.

"Pre-pandemic our safety net across the state was already extremely strained due to years of underfunding, both by the federal government and the Missouri legislature," said Michelle Trupiano. She is the executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council which advocates for reproductive health equity.

The council partners with the Boone County Health Department to deliver funding for reproductive health services.

"We work with a variety of different health providers from health departments to federally qualified health centers to stand-alone family planning clinics to ensure that their staff is trained, that they have the most up-to-date contraceptive services and are providing non-judgemental, quality counseling," Trupiano said.

Trupiano's organization works with 19 health centers and 75 clinic sites around the state. 

Grant funding can be tied to use, which made service partners worried they might lose funding if they could not see high-risk patients.

"We still know there are people falling through the cracks," Trupiano said.

The Missouri Family Health Council is one example of the vast array of public health initiatives; all of which the Boone County Health Departments says it has successfully kept up with.

"We still have a lot of members of the community that we serve with our other programs," Humm said.

Humm said practicing good social distancing in waiting rooms means those who need access to healthcare the most can still get it, no matter what their needs are.

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