To the Editor:
The Westfield Board of Health met on Oct. 7.
The seasonal influenza vaccination campaign is starting. A simple vaccination can help prevent the flu and it is best to be vaccinated before the flu starts spreading. Good health habits, like covering your cough and washing your hands, can also help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Residents can find information on influenza and local vaccination sites at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.
The Board discussed the increasing harms that e-cigarettes are causing, especially among young people. In the country, half of the recently reported patients with lung injury due to e-cigarettes were under 23 years old and the youngest was 13 years old. The Board will introduce a regulation to address e-cigarette use among children at its November meeting.
In August and September, 63 retail food establishments and swimming pools used by the community were inspected, a few several times. Most were satisfactory, but 10 were conditionally satisfactory. They were counseled concerning corrective measures and most have been reinspected and are now satisfactory. One restaurant and one pool were unsatisfactory, which means there was an imminent threat to health, and were closed until the unsafe conditions were corrected. These two establishments were discussed in detail, as was a restaurant that received its fourth conditional satisfactory and for which there will be a Board Hearing in November.
Several instances of mosquito breeding sites in town were reported. The Westfield Regional Health Department is working with the Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control to address these breeding sites, as well as increases in mosquito activity in the area. Essential aerial spraying was done as needed.
The Board discussed a child who was being monitored for lead poisoning and for whom the department intervened. Fortunately, the child’s blood lead level is now below 5 micrograms per deciliter and so will no longer be followed.
The department is part of the local Here 2 Help coalition to improve community awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Some upcoming programs concern teen stress, eldercare, anxiety and domestic violence. More information is at https://www.here2helpnj.org/.
The Health Department sponsors with Overlook Hospital free breast health and diabetes awareness education programs and other events. More information is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/healthevents.
Information about all the Health Department’s activities, including helpful health-related advice and recommendations, is available on its website https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health. Also, the department started a new monthly newsletter, which is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/healthnewsletters. Recent topics include influenza prevention, drinking water information, suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness and Halloween safety. You can sign up to receive Health Department information through https://www.westfieldnj.gov/townupdates.
The complete minutes of the Oct. 7 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our Nov. 4 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building. The public is invited to attend.
Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH
President, Westfield Board of Health