Health and Wellness

Posted 7/14/21

The Super Resource: Our Dakota County Public Health Department It is very easy to think in terms of health and well-being as relating to just ourselves, or on an individual basis. Of course, each of …

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Health and Wellness


The Super Resource: Our Dakota County Public Health Department

It is very easy to think in terms of health and well-being as relating to just ourselves, or on an individual basis. Of course, each of us wants to function to the best of our abilities, and to feel great in the process. But as we expand our vision outward, what does it mean to have a healthy community? What happens in a community when each person has an opportunity to be healthy and well in body, mind, and spirit?

A few years back, I had the pleasure of serving on the City of Hastings 2040 Comprehensive Planning Committee. It was a privilege to work with so many talented people wanting to explore the question, “What does Hastings want to be by the year 2040?”, and then, “How do we get there from here?”. We looked at topics like business and industry, housing, transportation, demographics, local government, and public health.

All of the above topics can help or hinder each member of a community’s well-being. Having or not having access to any or all of the above items will have a ripple effect out from an individual, to that person’s family, friends, co-workers, and on and on. Indeed, “it takes a village” to create and sustain a healthy community!

To that end, I wanted to get in touch with a community resource that could help me see a bigger picture of what a healthy Hastings looks like, and what’s currently in place to help move our city and county toward vibrant health and wellness. I was connected with Ms. Gina Adasiewicz, our Public Health Director for Dakota County. She took over the position this past May, after serving as the Deputy Health Director for over five years.

I’d like to take a moment here to share with you what good hands we’re in with Ms. Adasiewicz given her educational and work experience background. Ms. Adasiewicz worked as a Registered Nurse for many years in a hospital setting. She completed her Masters degree in Community Health from the University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center. She moved back to Minnesota and worked at United Hospital until she was hired at Dakota County as a Public Health Nurse. Ms. Adasiewicz has been with Dakota County in the Public Health Department for the past 33 years. Her enthusiasm for what she does, and her willingness to share her insights with me regarding public health issues in our community tells me that we can see many positive health outcomes moving forward.

As Ms. Adasiewicz and I chatted during our phone conversation, I had questions to ask about what duties she performs within her Directorship role, what issues the Public Health Department is working on, and of course, how dealing with the COVID 19 virus has affected the focus of the department, and how those resources have been deployed, reallocated, and reimagined. I’ll discuss this part of our conversation in an upcoming installment of this series of articles, For now, I’ll consider our first article an overview of our Dakota County Public Health Department, and then look at various subjects within the Department in upcoming articles.

To get a “30,000 foot overview” of the Dakota County Public Health Department, Ms. Adasiewicz emailed me three pieces of information so I could get a sense of the department’s vision, action plan, and desired outcomes. I received the “Healthy People Healthy Communities” brochure, the “2018 Report Highlights”, and the “20182020 Dakota County Public Health Department Strategic Plan”. I’ve found many of these resources by going to the Dakota County website, and I hope you’ll check out this information, too. Briefly, I’ll sum up a couple highlights from each of the three publications, and this will give you a sense of the mission and dedication of the department, and how fortunate our community is to have a resource like this working to help us become and stay healthy and well.

“Healthy People Healthy Communities” looks at topics like the promotion of health, mental health, and safety, children and families, disease prevention, preparing for emergencies, creating a healthy community for a lifetime, and planning for a healthy Dakota County. The brochure explains how the Public Health Department works to protect and promote the health of our county’s residents, provide direct services to individuals, and see how these direct services would impact thousands more through health promotion activities, and our county’s Public Health Department partnership with other community groups and organizations.

“2018 Annual Report Highlights” looks at our community health assessment. This is a comprehensive community assessment that is completed every five years. This assessment’s surveys and interviews led to five priority areas: adult mental health, adult physical activity, housing affordability, inability to access health care due to cost, and suicidal ideation in adolescence.

“2018-2020 Dakota County Public Health Department Strategic Plan” defines what strategic planning is, i.e., “…a process for defining and determining an organizations’s roles, priorities, and direction over three to five years.”. And this document goes into wonderful detail focused on each of the items listed here; roles, priorities, and direction. Again, as we continue the conversation over the next few articles in this series, we’ll delve into these important topics as well as Ms. Adasiewicz’s insights and input that I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back in this story.

I’m looking forward to learning more from Ms. Adasiewicz, and sharing with all of you continued information about our Dakota County Public Health Department, and all of the services it provides to contribute to our community to build a healthier, happier Dakota County for each of us living here. Cheers and be well!