LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Dr. Tina Stefanski has been the regional medical director for the Office of Public Health in Acadiana for the past 18 years. According to Dr. Stefanski, they have some of the busiest health units in the state. The office monitors drinking water, educates the community and offers healthcare services and immunizations. 

“We’re essentially CDC’s arm at the state level. So doctors report to us for infectious diseases. Then when there is an intervention we offer that,” Dr. Stefanski said. 

After completing her residency in pediatrics, Dr. Stefanski knew she wanted to go into public health, helping a wide variety of people.

According to Dr. Stefanski, the meningitis outbreak at UL Lafayette in 2006 and helping Hurricane Katrina victims have been some of the most memorable moments of her career.

“The UL outbreak in 2006. We had several cases of meningitis on campus and a few deaths unfortunately, which was really tragic. But we were able to mobilize and vaccinate almost 6000 students, faculty and staff within five or six days which was really tremendous,” Dr. Stefanski said. 

Dr. Stefanski said her office is constantly planning for emergencies.

If there is a disaster, then the Office of Public Health is the lead for the health and medical response. During Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Stefanski and her team spent two months at the Heyyman Center, caring for those who needed immediate medical attention.”

“We were able to get lots of volunteers from other parts of the state who came in and who really made an impact on people’s lives,” Dr. Stefanski said. 

So what’s changing in the world of public health? Mental health.

The Office of Public Health will provide mental health services to children and families.

“If we help them with transportation issues, housing, employment, childcare that then they may be more able to address their physical and mental health care needs,” Dr. Stefanski said. 

According to Dr. Stefanski, the Office of Public Health see more than two thousand patients a month just at the Lafayette Parish Health Unit.