Fond du Lac County Health Department Receives Award
The Fond du Lac County Health Department will receive Ripon College’s 2021 Founders’ Day Award that honors the ideals of those who started the College in 1851. The announcement was made Friday Jan. 29, the 170th anniversary of the College’s official founding on Jan. 29, 1851. The award will be presented at the spring Commencement ceremony.
“The staff of the Fond du Lac County Health Department has gone above and beyond in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zach Messitte, president of Ripon College. “They have worked closely with the College and the community to develop safe and thoughtful ways to continue operations over the past year.”
Kim Mueller, a health officer in Fond du Lac County, said the recognition is significant because of the type of work her department does. “When it comes to public health, most of the time it’s under the radar,” she said. “It’s not easy for somebody to see what we do on a regular basis. So when something major happens, such as the pandemic, having recognition of the hard work the staff has done is such a huge honor.”
Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, the department has worked with Ripon College and the three other institutions of higher education in Fond du Lac County, K-12 schools, healthcare facilities and businesses of all sizes throughout the county to ensure that all were kept informed of current information and best practices to deal with the pandemic.
The department’s 31 employees and 20 temporary contact tracers work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health Services and Agnesian HealthCare “to ensure we can properly inform our partners,” Mueller said. “Consistent and constant communication is key.”
Department employees have direct relationships and meet regularly with Ripon College and other county partners to help them plan and “so everybody is on the same page,” Mueller said.
Over the course of the pandemic, their workload has increased to many more physical hours, and their tasks have shifted to new responsibilities, Mueller said. While the department has always promoted implementing plans for a pandemic, many county entities previously weren’t motivated to put one into place. “It wasn’t important at that time,” she said. “They’re all going to have one now because they know the importance of it.”