Cape Girardeau Co. Public Health Center gains public engagement this election

More public engagement with public health center board

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The ongoing pandemic highlighted the importance of county health centers and their role in public health.

It also created more public engagement the in April 6 Municipal Elections.

“Public health is much more than just one set of services, and it is more than one set of issues,” Jane Wernsman said.

Wernsman is the Director for the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center.

She said the coronavirus ad policies enacted to fight it have created more public interest in the department.

“People do become more engaged in public health and how we can build that better bridge to a healthier community and a healthy county,” Wernsman said.

She said Tuesday’s election is like no other she has seen.

Eleven people were on the ballot to fill the four seats on the Health Center’s Board of Trustees.

“I think it was a different atmosphere, a different approach than what we’ve seen in past board re-elections,” Wernsman said.

Georganne Syler has been the Vice Chairperson since 2013.

She said she agrees with Wernsman.

“The last time I ran was four years ago, and no one ran against those of us who were running,” Syler said.

Syler said no matter who is on board she hopes the responsibilities are still fully met.

Even those that often go unnoticed.

“Be it vaccines, be it clean water, be it women infants and children care. Whether it is sexually transmitted disease, tuberculosis... you can see it just goes on and on and on,” Syler said.

Eric Becking, who also ran in the April 6 election, said he was unaware that a board of trustees for the health center even existed before the pandemic.

“There’s just going to be more notice no matter what, because I don’t know if there was a big notice before,” Becking said.

Wernsman said she hopes the board will continue to protect the community and county.

“It definitely has been an opportunity for the public to see firsthand some of the activities and some of the obligation that public health center, public health department in the state of Missouri is required to do,” Wernsman said.

You can click here for more information on election results.

Copyright 2021 KFVS. All rights reserved.