COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS
The mission of the Bureau of Community Health Systems is to provide infrastructure for the implementation of core public health functions in a high quality, effective and responsive manner that will positively impact the health status of Pennsylvanians. The bureau itself consists of three distinct work units: State Health Centers, the Division of School Health and the Environmental Health Services program.
State Health Centers
The bureau operates a network of State Health Centers
which provide and support public health programs throughout the commonwealth. Utilizing community health assessments and outreach services, health center staff focus on five core functions: communicable disease investigation and prevention, tuberculosis (TB) investigation and treatment, HIV/STD services, immunizations and public health education.
- Communicable disease investigations are carried out by community health nurses on a daily basis throughout the commonwealth. During the course of an investigation, nurses collect information to determine the source of the disease, make contact with those who have been affected either directly or indirectly, and follow up to assure both treatment of patients and resolution of the root cause of the disease.
- TB investigation and treatment services ensure that affected individuals are provided testing and necessary treatment to prevent and control TB in the community. Follow-up testing and education are important parts of this program.
- STD/HIV services include testing and treatment of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, as well as testing and referral services for HIV. Partner notification of possible exposure to STDs and HIV is available and serves to increase testing and treatment to reduce the spread of disease.
- Immunizations are offered to the most vulnerable populations in the commonwealth, particularly the uninsured and under-served, and are offered at the state health centers, community ventures and community-based events.
- Public health education is an integral part of the work done by the bureau. Whether at a formal presentation or a one-on-one counseling session, nurses share the knowledge and skills needed to improve the health of Pennsylvanians.
The Division of School Health
School health staff provide technical assistance to school nurses throughout the commonwealth and reimburse approximately $36 million per year to school districts for health services provided. They also provide resources for school nurses and community health nurses via webinars and the department's website.
Environmental Health Services
Environmental health specialists conduct complaint-based investigations for all public bathing places in Pennsylvania and are responsible for permitting new public bathing places. BCHS also registers organized camps and assures the certification of local health officers statewide.
Updated January 13, 2017