On the job | Suhani Patel

August 30, 2019 |
A woman kneels on a grassy lawn next to health department signage.

Protecting community health through pool inspections and mosquito control

Patel has conducted mosquito surveillance for West Nile virus and pool inspections as part of her summer internship in Ohio.

 

Editor’s note: This summer, 26 students in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) are getting hands-on experience as interns with government agencies and private companies. In our occasional “On the Job” series, we feature some of their stories.

 

Suhani Patel, BS, Environmental Health

Intern with: Portage County Health Department, Ohio

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Summer-logo-sm%20(1).pngI’m spending my summer as an intern with the Portage County Health Department in Ravenna, Ohio, through the National Environmental Public Health Internship Program.

Part of my job involves doing water quality testing on the 70 pools in the county, running tests, collecting data, interpreting the results and educating pool managers.

I was able to detect four pools that were out of compliance with state regulations. In one instance, the disinfection unit for the pool shut off. Within a few days, the pool turned green! Luckily, we were able to detect the low chlorine levels early on and take appropriate actions.

I’ve also been involved with the health department's mosquito surveillance program. I trapped mosquitoes throughout the county, collected data on West Nile virus and worked on methods to control mosquito populations.

Recently, Portage County held a giant fair, and the health department set up an educational booth where I was able to talk to community members about the importance of protecting against mosquito bites.

I’ve been inspired by the essential work that happens in local health departments and hope to one day aid in this mission of maintaining a healthy environment for the community.