We’ve Come a Long Way Since 1953
Learn more about our public health journey and how we’ve evolved to meet the demands of our time.
To download a list of dates that LCHD will be closed due to holiday observances in 2024, or to note board meeting dates, follow this link.
What We Do
Prevent. Promote. Protect.
What is Public Health?
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.
While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.
LCHD: From 1953 to 2021
In 1953, residents of Lafayette County recognized the need for services to address health needs in the community, and a steering committee to analyze county health problems was appointed. In 1957, the first county health nurse was hired and the Lafayette County Nursing Service was formed. The newly formed agency entered into a contract with the state of Missouri to receive public health monies. Some of the first programs were mass polio immunization clinics, first aid training, babysitting, and civil defense. The county health nurse gave home and office visits to dispense tuberculosis medication, provide dressing and care to cancer patients, and classes in-home nursing. It became the lead agency in coordinating disaster planning for the county.
Public Health Evolves in Lafayette Counthy
Immunization services were expanded in 1963 to include prevention activities for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and smallpox. The Maternal Child Health Program started in 1967 to educate the public about prenatal and infant health issues. In 1970, the first family planning services were offered, and the Health Office began mass immunization clinics for rubella. In 1973, child health screenings began and included free well-child checkups for children through 5 years of age.
The Lafayette County Health Department was established.
In 1982, a mill tax levy was established creating a funding base for the Lafayette County Health Office, and more staff was added. Home health services were provided. All previous services were continued and expanded. In 1989 a state grant program funded an environmental sanitarian to inspect food establishments and sewer systems. The agency expanded in the 1990s and became known as the Lafayette County Health Department (LCHD). LCHD continued all services and focused on collaboration with other agencies to optimize health services available to all county residents. The 2000s saw a continued focus on providing health care services through collaborative funding opportunities. A prenatal clinic was offered at the health department from the late 80s to the mid-2000s, as well as a family planning clinic with a nurse practitioner providing exams and treatments in the mid-90s and early 2000s. As other medical service providers became available in the county, LCHD phased out these programs.
Lafayette County Begins to Fill Access Gaps to Care
A rural health care coalition was established to address gaps in provider coverage in Lafayette County. Through community collaboration, the Health Care Collaborative of Missouri was hosted by LCHD in its early stages. A federally qualified health center was brought to the county in 1999 and was hosted at LCHD during it’s first year.
Poised to Meet the Demands of Our Time
As the threat of bioterrorism and disease pandemics came to the forefront in 2001, LCHD expanded its disaster preparedness planning and activities and hired a public health emergency planner in 2006. The second decade of the 21st century has seen expansion into the areas of healthy lifestyle promotion and tobacco control and prevention. LCHD continues to expand into new areas and modify existing programs to meet the needs and opportunities that arise to improve the quality of life for our citizens.