The Precedence of Public Health


Victoria Haukaas, Journalism Student

The Department of Health is a vast institution with many properties, jobs, and purposes. It is an important structure that teenagers should know about, and for me in particular a “segway” into my dream profession; a tattoo artist! I interviewed Catherine Lloyd and Rishu Garg, a Health Occupations Manager and a Body Art Establishment Regulator.

They had a lot to say about policy, laws, and reasons the department is important. However a good opening statement is that they both feel that “[The Department of Health] is a pillar for the community as a whole. It gives us a lot more than people realize because when people think about health they only think about doctors”

What really happens “behind the curtains” is the department gives us simple things like the right way to wash your hands to Body Art Establishment working to protect the public from blood-borne pathogens.

That’s just how the department came around. In 2010 for specifically tattooing, Minnesota Legislative was approached by blood banks. There was concern with the rise of popularity of tattoos that the blood tattooed individuals were giving would be contaminated or host for all sorts of different health risks. So came the adaptive laws surrounding licensing and policy.

Lloyd went into a lot that the department as a whole covers and that’s why it’s so important youth nowadays are familiar with it. The department’s job is “Protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans.” It’s really your central hub for being informed on everything there is about your right to have proper care.

She went on to describe that “We have one of the best labs in country. We gather a lot of data on diseases and statistics and that’s what defines our policy.”

I then asked what changes regulations have gone through and for Body Art Establishment Garg states that it’s the departments rigorous policies and tests that they find these causes of ill health and diseases. This is what spurs change.

It’s up to Minnesota and its local governments to define regulations for this stuff and to follow certain “terms of aid” put forth by the federal government. However Lloyd and Garg taught me that certain counties still design their own policies, like Anoka county, that either match or further restrict Minnesota Legislature. With all of that technical wording, it’s the department of health that can teach you what is lawful in your area!

I asked them to list some of the many other things that the department offers and right off the bat I was given so many, including “licensing nursing assistants, hospitals, data and reports, epidemiology, air and water control. Health equity. Emergency preparation programs. Directed programs like dental health and cardiovascular health, smoking. Different youth programs… “ You guys get the idea.

Then finally I closed the interview with what was most rewarding about their jobs. Garg stated “It’s a kind and rewarding field. I spend a lot of my time working with clients and at the end of the day policies and being religiously bound by them keeps the public safe.” Lloyd agreed and frankly so do I.

So in the end, stay informed and updated about what keeps you safe. The Minnesota Department of Health is always working with institutions and consumer businesses to make sure they help you and not hurt you!