Environmental Public Health Week

Public Health Inspector

September 21, 2020

Meet Eleanor

Public Health Inspector

What made you choose a career as a Public Health Inspector?

Environmental Public Health is such a diverse and dynamic field. Public Health Inspectors are trained in food safety, infection prevention and control, tattoo and personal services safety, air and water quality, day cares and institutional health, injury prevention, waste management, pest control, healthy built environments and housing, and emergency preparedness and planning. I believe in serving and protecting my community and I see firsthand the value preventative measures bring to our healthcare system.

I like being able to go into any environment and apply the principles of Environmental Public Health. It applies to many seemingly unrelated areas that I have personal interests in, such as food safety, swimming pool operation, and childcare. My job allows me to get out into the community and form lasting relationships with the public. Every day is different so I am always ready for anything.

Can you tell us a bit about how COVID-19 impacted your work? Specifically, how did you and your team mobilize to respond to the pandemic?

Public Health Inspectors are an important part of Alberta Health Services' frontline response. We are ready to go where we are needed and we play a critical role in responding to any emergency situation. Public Health Inspectors have been out in the public since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring grocery stores and other essential businesses remained open and safe. I, along with the other inspectors in my team, have been inspecting shelters, group homes, restaurants, hotels, schools, and the airport, both preventatively and in response to potential COVID-19 exposures. We are one of the first points of contact the public makes if they have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19.

Can you tell us a bit about the work you’ve done at the Edmonton Expo Centre in response to the pandemic?

Public Health Inspectors were involved right from the start when it became apparent that additional room was needed in our shelters, which is why the City of Edmonton and their community partners turned the Edmonton Expo Centre into a temporary drop-in day shelter. Our vulnerable unhoused population needed a place to go during the day to stay safe and physically distanced from others, while still having their needs met. They still needed a place to have a hot meal, somewhere to shower or go to the washroom, a place to take a nap or just hang out and feel normal. We also needed to create a safe space where unhoused people could go to self-isolate if they were symptomatic or potentially COVID-19 positive. We helped design the layout of the space, ensured proper spacing between beds and cohorts, looked at the flow of people, and determined the maximum headcount the space could hold, and even ensured there would be enough shower and bathroom facilities available to account for physical distancing.

Public Health Inspectors were on site daily working with the Emergency Command Centre and making sure proper cleaning and disinfection practices were in place. We worked with the kitchen staff to ensure food safety, and applied infection prevention and control principals such as proper disinfection of cots between individuals and the safe screening of individuals for COVID-19 symptoms. There was a significant need in our vulnerable population, and Public Health Inspectors were there to protect the health of our community.

What’s the most rewarding part of your role at AHS?

I’m part of an amazing team of very talented individuals who I get to learn from every day. I see the value I am adding to Albertans by preventing injury and disease. I know I am making a difference.

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