Black Hawk County Health Department
2021 Annual Report

A Message from Our Director

FY21 has been a year of endurance, resiliency, and bravery.

COVID-19 showed us the necessity of a mature local public health system; centered on equity with an infrastructure that promotes health, strengthens the resiliency of the healthcare systems, and supports the financial recovery of communities.

From COVID-19, I have learned the importance of community unity. However arduous and unpredictable the pandemic has been, I witnessed firsthand the bravery and determination of our community.

Thank you for being a partner to public health. Our hope is that we continue to deepen and broaden our partnerships to meet the needs of our community.

Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye
Ph.D., MPH
Public Health Director
“With the guidance of the CDC, and local health systems – the businesses in the Cedar Valley knew that the way to stay strong and get ahead was by keeping employees and patrons safe. Getting through this “together” was never more prominent, and the awareness that the pandemic was going to change our landscape was front and center.”
Cary Darrah
President and CEO-Grow Cedar Valley

The COVID-19 response continues

Black Hawk County Health Department (BHCHD) staff continue to work tirelessly to keep the community safe and provide guidance, resources, testing, and vaccines for all. Throughout the pandemic, BHCHD convened healthcare providers along with elected officials and partners to implement prevention, response, and recovery steps to protect the community. We saw time and again how COVID-19 disproportionately impacted communities of color and those with existing health disparities. We challenged ourselves and our partners to consider how our policies and day-to-day practices might limit the availability of information and services to those most impacted by this pandemic. We discussed the barriers and implemented solutions.

Download the full 2021 Annual Report to learn more.

“I could not be any prouder of our unified fight against Covid. Working together has aided in timely communication. It’s allowed us to brainstorm and work on solutions that are best for our community, which in turn has helped save lives and improve the quality of our community. Go TEAM!”
Dr. Sharon Duclos
Co-Medical Director, Peoples Community Health Clinic

Collaborating for community health improvement

Using the results of an extensive 2019 community health assessment, BHCHD, along with MercyOne, Peoples Community Health Clinic, UnityPoint Health, and the Cedar Valley United Way convened community partners to develop an improvement plan for the priority issues of Healthy Behaviors, Mental Health & Trauma, and Systems Thinking.

During FY21, task teams were formed for each of the priority issues to study the results of the assessment, understand the issue’s alignment with state and national plans and examine current resources, policies, and actions related to the priority.

Download the full 2021 Annual Report to learn more.

“The Black Hawk County Health Department, local pharmacies and other area health care providers are all excellent partners. Not a week goes by where I’m not in touch with one of these entities.”
Dr. Matthew Sojka
MercyOne Northeast Iowa Chief Medical Officer

Leveraging for Equity

Transforming a system designed to perpetuate long-standing health and social inequities requires us to both reflect on the narratives from the community and the patterns, systems, and mental models that create inequities. Fueled by the 2018 24/7 Wall Street publication’s labeling of Waterloo-Cedar Falls as the worst city for African Americans to live in the United States and with funding through the Kresge Foundation, the department convened community partners during 2019 to map the system showing: what accounts for the level of inequities in our community?

Download the full 2021 Annual Report to learn more.

“Complex challenges came often and changed quickly, but we had the knowledge that the best way to lead through those conditions is to do it together. I mostly want to express appreciation and gratitude to health care workers everywhere for their tireless efforts in caring for the most vulnerable individuals in our community and also our partners across Black Hawk County for helping us do it as safely as possible.”
Dr. Russell Adams
Chief Medical Officer, UnityPoint-Waterloo

Transforming how we work

In 2020, the ten essential public health services were revised to include a strong focus on equity. This revision confirmed the importance of the role already taken on by BHCHD, one of a community health equity strategist where we protect and promote the health of all people in all communities.

Integrating systems thinking tools with equity training led to a greater understanding of the systems map as well as the identification of transactional versus transformational change.

Download the full 2021 Annual Report to learn more.