Benson honored for dedication to public healthWORTHINGTON — After working on public health issues for more than a decade, Nobles County Commissioner David Benson was honored Wednesday in Brainerd with the 2010 Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health.
WORTHINGTON — After working on public health issues for more than a decade, Nobles County Commissioner David Benson was honored Wednesday in Brainerd with the 2010 Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health.
“(Public health work) is an important activity that people don’t see, usually, unless you get an epidemic,” Benson said.
Benson received the award from the Minnesota Department of Health State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC).
He praised SCHSAC in its turn as a wonderful example of a positive relationship between a state governmental agency and local agencies. Benson has been involved with the organization for approximately 10 years.
“It’s the best listening and working together (with local groups) department I’ve ever seen,” Benson said.
SCHSAC sets up work groups for specific timetables to meet specific goals, and Benson has been a part of several groups over the years, including the Blueprint for Change group, which investigates how public health should evolve and change in the future, and the Performance Improvement and Accreditation group, which follows the nation-wide move toward accrediting public health agencies.
Benson is also in the local group attempting to keep youth smoke-free and he is a member of the Sexually Healthy Youth (SHY) Coalition. He has been on the local health advisory committee for 12 years.
“I just think we’ve got to do more work early with kids,” Benson said. “Good behavior and patterns will carry through life.”
Benson’s work in the area of public health was inspired by the work of two of his sisters, both of whom are registered nurses.
He believes public health and the health fields in general should take a lesson from veterinary medicine, which strives not only to treat individual animals that have fallen ill, but to preserve the health of whole populations through positive action and preventative measures.
“Do we really look at the health of all of us? How we live is going to make a huge difference,” Benson said, citing the escalating obesity epidemic and its increasingly devastating impact on health. “… we drive everywhere, and we eat more than we have to.”
Public health services face a number of challenges, from obesity to epidemic illnesses, but must also educate the public about diet, hand-washing and other health-promoting activities.
“(Public health) has certainly changed a lot,” Benson said. “The county has more responsibilities all the time.”