WESTCHESTER, NY -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced Thursday that the Westchester County Health Department has won a national award for excellence in public health communication for a video designed to help residents avoid Norovirus, a stomach bug that tends to strike during winter months.
"I am proud that our health department has earned this prestigious award," Astorino said. "Special thanks to Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health, for her leadership, and to the team that produced this video."
The health department won the silver medal in the 2014 Awards for Excellence in Public Health Communication at the National Conference for Health Communication, Marketing and Media, held in Atlanta, for "Helping You Stay Healthy This Season: A Guide to Norovirus Prevention."
"As anyone who has had it knows, norovirus is extremely unpleasant, but the health department's creative approach to educating the public about this topic should help raise awareness about how to avoid this nasty stomach bug," Astorino said.
The video appears on the Norovirus page of the health department's Web site. Copies of the DVD also are being distributed to assisted living facilities, colleges and residential schools, among others.
Norovirus, a common stomach bug that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, can easily spread anywhere people live in close quarters. Outbreaks of the disease are most common from November to April.
"We hope that by calling attention to this award, we can encourage food service and health service directors at colleges, banquet halls, assisted living facilities and schools to watch this video now with their staff before Norovirus season begins and to follow our recommendations to avoid spreading illness," Amler said. "The key take-aways are to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, to avoid handling food or caring for others when you are sick and to stay home for at least 48 hours after your symptoms resolve to avoid spreading germs. We also want any facility that experiences this problem to contact us so that we can give them more specific guidance to help them minimize the disruption."
Amler also thanked Westchester Community College for their cooperation. The video was produced in-house with health department staffers, a CDC Fellow and staffers from the Westchester Community College Culinary Dining Room and was filmed at the Westchester Community College Culinary Dining Room and Culinary Lab, with the cooperation of the college.
Hundreds of health departments from cities, counties and states throughout the country were invited to submit their best work for consideration to the National Public Health Information Coalition. The health department won in the category of in-house special AV project.