'Education is the key to prevention' for Monroe County community health nurse Goessling
Educating others on how to be healthy is an important part of Colleen Goessling’s role as a community health nurse for the Monroe County Health Department.
“I wish others to have knowledge and resources on how to maintain their health, to realize the need to do their own research to make an informed decision,” Goessling told SW Illinois News. “In this day and age, everyone is in a hurry, and with internet and social media readily available at our fingertips, people tend to skim and click. . . . Just because it's on the internet, does not make it true.”
As a community health nurse, Goessling is responsible for education, follow-up and tracking, and referrals and resources for communicable diseases, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and hepatitis. She also collects and tests mosquitoes for West Nile Virus, which includes locating and treating the breeding grounds; she educates businesses of the Smoke-Free IL Act and offers guidance to county residents wishing to stop using tobacco products, and researches, updates and orders vaccines.
“The opportunity of education for all, as well as myself, never ceases,” Goessling said. “The medical field continuously moves forward, making every day an opportunity to learn something new. Never assume everyone has the same knowledge and understands that knowledge. Helping someone find an answer, to understand and utilize the information, is a reward within itself.”
Goessling, who currently resides in Waterloo, was previously a nurse in a St. Louis hospital for 20 years. She joined the Monroe County Health Department in 2009 when the H1N1 influenza spread through the state.
“The 2009 influenza vaccine did not protect against this strain and revaccination was recommended,” Goessling said. “The Monroe County Health Department took great measures to ensure the children in the county were protected by offering the additional vaccine by going to the schools. I was brought in to assist in this feat and witnessed first-hand how a local health department's effort can assist so many families.”
Goessling hopes the Monroe County Health Department becomes a prominent resource for members of the community, by providing information about diseases in other countries, for example.
“People may be traveling to a country where certain diseases are prevalent that we have not seen here in the United States in a long time,” she said. “Travelers may not know how to protect themselves prior to and while they are traveling. Health care providers may not have the time in the office to speak to them in detail of such concerns. We may bridge that gap at the health department. Education is the key to prevention.”
Goessling regularly speaks to individuals and groups in workshops on a range of topics including nutrition, health and safety, and vaccinations. Goessling also currently and very recently became involved in the Monroe County Coalition for a Drug Free Community, and Clifftop Alliance. She used to be extremely active in the Boy Scouts of America where she held multiple positions in district, troop and pack levels for two decades.
Besides working and volunteering, Goessling enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors.