Health department opens doors to public

By: By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold or silver.” If he was correct, the folks at the Bladen County Health Department are working to make residents rich, and they were passing out the goods Thursday at their open house.

“It’s an opportunity to get people involved,” said Health Department representative Tabetha Butler. “The community has a lot to offer, and we want to get the word out about the programs we have.”

The department threw open the doors — quite literally, as the doors to the building remained open throughout the event to accommodate the hundreds of guests moving in and out—and people came. Attendees to Thursday’s event received festive leis at the door, and then found various agencies that had set up science fair-type posterboard displays with information about such topics as prenatal care, the library, communicable disease and family planning. Children snacked on popcorn and bottled water while their parents perused the displays. Every 15 minutes, door prizes were given out, and children were lined up for the face painting that was being offered. A sheriff’s office representative was on hand fingerprinting children.

“If something were to happen to the child, it would help us tremendously for the parents to provide the fingerprint cards that we’re giving them,” said sheriff’s deputy Matthew Long.

A couple of months ago, the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office obtained a second trained K-9, Jaxx (which, his handler said, could not have been done without help from the community), and the 18-month old Belgian Malinois and his handler, Cpl. Clark, demonstrated Jaxx’ skills for the crowd. Clark hid some narcotics in a bush, which Jaxx promptly found in response to Clark’s hand signals. Clark enlisted some of the children present to distribute on the ground some articles, which, like the narcotics, presented no problem for Jaxx’ good training.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse were making rounds greeting children, and Melinda’s Twirlers demonstrated their skills with baton routines.

“I got an email and decided to come check it out,” said attendee Grace Whitaker. “They have a lot of good information, like the car seat checks, for example. A lot of people don’t know how to properly install a car seat, so this is something that’s really needed in the community.”

“I thought it went really well,” said Health Department representative Berkleigh Pridgen. “We worked hard to put it together, and I feel like we were able to get information about our services out to the public in a fun way.”

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll