Health Department Releases Annual Report

Published on March 21, 2024

Report highlights efforts to improve community health and celebrates 150 years of the Board of Health

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today released its 2023 Public Health Annual Report. The report highlights new initiatives, vital services and effective programs that improve the health and safety of Lincoln and Lancaster County residents. The report also recognizes a historic milestone – the Board of Health celebrated its 150th year.

“The public’s health is the driving force to identify specific community needs and create programs and services in collaboration with local partners,” said Pat Lopez, Health Director. “The Board of Health has been critical in making our meaningful work possible.”

The report is posted on the Health Department’s website at Highlights include:

2023 Reaccreditation

Reaccreditation reinforces LLCHD’s status as a high-performing public health department that is dedicated to meeting the highest standards, delivering vital services and effective programs, and improving the health and safety of residents in Lincoln and Lancaster County.

The Health Department achieved national reaccreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board in August 2023. The reaccreditation follows the department’s completion of a comprehensive review process that measures a health department’s performance against a set of nationally recognized, evidence-based standards. LLCHD was first accredited in 2017.

Community Health Improvement Plan

Every three years, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department convenes its partners Bryan Health and CHI Health and more than 75 collaborating organizations along with community members to prioritize and address the most common and concerning health challenges among residents of Lancaster County and to work toward a healthier community. The Community Health Improvement Plan aligns community partners, community members and resources around a set of shared priorities. Priority areas include Access to Care, Behavioral Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention.

Recent examples include:

  • Launch of Family Connects. Family Connects offers families with newborns in Lincoln and Lancaster County a home visit from a public health nurse within three weeks following birth
  • School zone safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Promotion of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline

Learn more about all Community Health Improvement Initiatives at (Search: CHIP).

Lead Safe Lincoln

There is no safe level of lead in children. Lead Safe Lincoln is a program that reduces the risk of lead exposure through lead testing in young children, the identification and removal of lead hazards in homes, and lead pipe replacement.

The Health Department offers lead testing for children ages 1 through 6 through its onsite public health clinic. The Health Department provides a public health nurse to assist families of children who test positive for lead.

High blood lead levels in children are typically caused by an exposure in the home environment. Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most common and hazardous sources for lead in children.

Through a partnership with Lincoln’s Urban Development Department, the Health Department’s environmental public health team conducts lead paint inspections and risk assessments on homes and apartment buildings. If lead hazards are identified, both departments work together to help make the dwelling lead safe, creating healthier living environments for children and families.

LLCHD Public Health Clinic

The Health Department’s Public Health Clinic is a safety net provider of vaccines for children and adults, especially for those who may be uninsured or not connected to a medical home. Over the last year, 6,811 children and 3,582 adults received routine vaccinations through the clinic.

The clinic also serves newly arrived refugees by providing health screenings and vaccinations as well as linking them to a medical home for ongoing preventive care. The clinic served 687 refugees in 2023. Refugees came from many countries including Afghanistan, Congo, Ukraine, South Sudan, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Thailand, Burma, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti, Rwanda, Colombia, Pakistan and Palestine.

Dental Services

Lancaster County third graders had the best oral health status results in the state, according to the Nebraska Oral Health Survey of Young Children. Good oral health is a critical component of overall health and well-being. Dental Services provides preventive, routine and emergency dental care to low-income children, adults, pregnant women and refugees without dental insurance or enrolled in Medicaid. Outreach programs include Lincoln and Lancaster County School Screenings, Early Head Start Fluoride Varnish Program and education and outreach events for vulnerable populations. The Dental Clinic provided 12,391 visits and dental staff provided 1,267 dental screenings and fluoride varnish applications to Early Head Start, Head Start and early childhood development centers.

Opioid Awareness and Prevention

The Health Department continues to lead a local coalition focused on prevention activities to reduce drug misuse, poisonings, and overdoses in Lincoln and Lancaster County. Recent efforts included implementing stigma reduction awareness campaigns and expanding access to Naloxone (a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose). Utilizing national opioid settlement dollars received by the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County, LLCHD is leading the development of a strategic plan to reduce the risk of substance use among youth, facilitate the creation of an Overdose Fatality Review Team, and begin testing wastewater for opioids and other substances.

HazToGo Expansion

The Health Department was awarded a $1.3 million grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to expand the facility and operations at HazToGo, Lincoln’s Hazardous Waste Center located at 5101 N. 48th St. The funding will be used to establish an onsite store that offers convenient and safe access to usable household products to Lincoln and Lancaster County residents at no cost. The reuse store is expected to open in 2025.

Model Practice Award for COVID-19 Efforts

LLCHD received a 2023 Model Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The award recognizes health department best practices in response to a critical local public health need. LLCHD was recognized for its innovation in developing and using a COVID-19 dashboard to communicate critical information to Lincoln and Lancaster County residents during the pandemic.

The dashboard takes public health data and turns it into a transparent and tangible tool that puts real-time information and the ability to track our local situation at people’s fingertips. This data-driven approach kept residents well informed and showed the impact of COVID-19 on the community and if there was heightened risk. There have been nearly 15 million visits to the COVID-19 dashboard since it was launched by the Health Department in 2020.

Rabies Prevention

Lincoln Animal Control maintains a responsive and full array of domestic and wildlife services within the city limits. The Division ensures pet licensing – 63,630 dogs and cats are licensed within Lincoln – and rabies vaccination along with prevention education. Animal Control partners with the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center for bat testing. Approximately, 367 bats were tested for rabies over the last year and seven tested positive.

Celebrating 150 Years of the Board of Health

The Board of Health was created in 1873 by the Lincoln City Council, just six years after Nebraska became a state. In the beginning, the duties of the Board of Health were primarily related to quarantine and prevention of the spread of contagious diseases. With Lincoln’s growth came an ever-expanding need for public health services and for a local department of health. For 150 years, the Board of Health has guided services, policies, legislation, programs, and all aspects of the health department – all to protect and promote the health of Lincoln and Lancaster County residents.

“Our Board of Health has hit a historic milestone – 150 years of leadership and dedication to improving the health and safety of residents in Lincoln and Lancaster County. It is my honor to lead the current board as we continue and also celebrate a long-established tradition of service,” said James Michael Bowers, Board President.

Find more annual report highlights at

About LLCHD: The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department is an accredited public health department and serves the community through Animal Control, Community Health Services, Dental Health and Nutrition Services, Environmental Public Health, Health Promotion and Outreach, and Informatics and Planning.

LLCHD is the oldest and largest local health department in the state of Nebraska. Its mission is to protect and promote the public’s health. LLCHD serves residents in both urban and rural communities including those living in Lincoln and in 23 rural towns, villages, or unincorporated villages, or on farms and acreages.

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