UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), Office of Communications
Los Angeles, CA
Maria Iacobo, Director, Office of Communications
Student Name: Thuy Banh
Year: 2005

My field studies began in June 2005 as part of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Administrative Internship Program. Over the course of eleven weeks, I worked 408 hours in the Office of Communications, under the direction of Maria Iacobo.

The Office of Communications functions as the liaison between DHS and the news media. Its mission is to communicate departmental positions, shape public opinion, and rally support for DHS activities through the distribution and coordination of press releases, public service announcements, and media requests. The Office also assists with departmental communications campaigns, oversees four DHS publications, designs and produces collateral materials such as posters, brochures and pamphlets, and has recently acquired the technological capability for web casting and video production.

On a daily basis, I helped the Communications staff with media requests, media reports, and news surveillance. I wrote and edited articles for Your Health, a DHS health publication targeted toward the general public, and contributed to Connections, a newsletter for DHS staff. I drafted a press release on the dangers of rabid bats and helped coordinate the distribution of a PSA about rabid bats to local radio stations.

In addition to media relations, I helped put together a Macromedia Flash presentation on the history of DHS, updated the content of the Office of Communications’ website, and created web archives for its publications. I was also able to work with staff on the filming, writing, and editing of a DHS video called “Public Health: Keeping Los Angeles County Healthy,” during which I was able to visit a veterinary health mobile, the public health laboratory, the STD mobile clinic, a county landfill, the vector control office, an animal keeper inspection, Rancho Los Amigos, the health assessment/ epidemiology unit, and immunization clinics at the Hollywood/Highland and Central Public Health centers.

I also I helped procure and distribute Safely Surrendered Baby Campaign materials to County hospitals and public health programs, and was responsible for coordinating DHS’ participation in the first “LA County Day” at the Fair, where six departmental PSAs were shown on the Fairplex’s megascreen, three DHS vehicles drove in the parade, and eight public health programs had booths to distribute collateral material to the public.
Lastly, I was able to attend the Administrative Internship Program’s workshops on Quality Assurance, Homelessness, Cultural Competency, Communications, and Maternal and Child Health, and to volunteer at the Pediatric Resource Fair.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services provides personal and public health services to approximately ten million people. During fiscal year 2004-05, DHS had 2.6 million ambulatory care visits, 300,000 emergency room visits, and 278,000 public health clinic visits. DHS employs around 23,000 staff members and has a budget of more than $3 billion a year.


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