News and Information


January 4, 2019

Now Accepting Nominations for the
2019 Public Health Champion Award

The Public Health Champion Award is an annual award that recognizes an individual, group, program or partnership whose service and activities have significantly contributed to improving our collective health. 

We may not always know all the great things happening in our communities that make Olmsted County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play. You can help us by nominating a Champion. The application is simple and easy to complete electronically. All nominations are due on or before February 20, 2019.

Champion Award Nomination Form

If you have questions, please contact Kari Etrheim at or call 507-328-7424


December 21, 2018

Mayo Clinic pediatrician named Minnesota's 2018 HPV vaccination champion

Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, professor of pediatrics in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and pediatrician in the Mayo Clinic Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, has received Minnesota’s 2018 HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion Award for his continual efforts to promote human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and its power to prevent cancer.  

The HPV vaccine is recommended for adolescents at age 11-12 years, but uptake has lagged far behind the other vaccines recommended at that age, which are meningococcal and Tdap vaccines. In Minnesota, only about 19.5 percent of 13-15-year-olds have completed the recommended HPV vaccination series. The story is different for Dr. Jacobson’s patients. For his 13-15-year-old patients seen in the last 24 months, 71.2 percent have completed the HPV vaccine series and he continues to strive for more.   

“Dr. Jacobson’s dedication and results can’t be ignored,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division at the Minnesota Department of Health. “He is showing that there are effective strategies for improving HPV vaccination rates and protecting young people from dangerous cancers that can develop later in life.”


December 13, 2018

Marilyn Deling Receives Statewide Leadership Award

The 2018 Betty Hubbard Maternal and Child Health Leadership Award was presented to Marilyn Deling, Healthy Children and Families Manager for Olmsted County Public Health for her leadership and advocacy on behalf of pregnant and parenting families living in Olmsted County.

This award recognizes the many accomplishments of Mrs. Deling over her 41 years of public health nursing experience in Maternal and Child Health.  "Her passion, dedication and determination results in positive outcomes for families," said Margene Gunderson, Associate Director of Olmsted County Public Health Services. "Her work impacts the communities of Olmsted County, Southeastern Minnesota, and the state of Minnesota."

During her tenure, she has tirelessly worked to assure children reach developmental milestones, live in safe homes that are free of neglect and maltreatment, and have access to health insurance. Marilyn was integral to starting the Olmsted Area Breastfeeding Coalition and a support group for parents who had a child die. Her passion for helping families and their children led her to understanding and promoting infant brain development, strengthening parenting skills, and trauma-informed systems that will support healthy parent / child relationships. After two years of policy and program preparations, she and her team of dedicated Public Health Nurses, became accredited in Healthy Families America evidence-based model of family home visiting. Marilyn's belief that society needs a strong foundation to foster healthy development in the next generation, led to the implementation of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) screenings with families being served by Public Health, Head Start, Early Head Start and the Rochester School District ECSE programs. Marilyn knows it takes the collective will of many to make significant change and using her skills, ability and passion she has made measurable impacts and positive changes in the areas of healthy infant brain development, childhood development and positive parent child relationships.

This annual award was established by Minnesota's Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force and the Minnesota Department of Health to honor the memory of Betty Hubbard, a long time Task Force member and maternal and child health advocate.


December 7, 2018

When local public health and hospitals collaborate, everyone wins

Building on an already strong relationship, Olmsted County Public Health Services, Olmsted Medical Center, and Mayo Clinic have designed and implemented the triennial Community Health Needs Assessment and then analyzed and used the findings to made improvements in population health, coordination of care and cost savings. Now in its third cycle, the investments and efforts by these entities and other partners, are being recognized in a publication from the Action Collaborative on Bridging Health, Health Care, and Community. Stories featured in this national publication are illustrative of all the efforts that have transpired or are underway across the nation. The qualities that were identified among and across all successful collaborations include trust, commitment, creativity, transparency, neutrality and flexibility.

Exemplars of CHNA Related Collaboration and Olmsted County's Story (page 31)  


December 6, 2018

Snow Plow Safety

Snow plow accidents are rare, but they do happen. We all rely on our many plow truck drivers, city and county, to clear and treat the hundreds of miles of roads and bridges in our cities and throughout Olmsted County. They work long days and nights, and have dangerous working conditions. Stay alert, Slow down, Stay back and Be patient. Here is an excellent video that puts you in the driver seat of one of our big plows.


October 15, 2018

Your Help Is Needed!

Every three years our community conducts a community health needs assessment to help community leaders understand, define and identify the areas of highest need. In addition to a mailed survey to random households in Olmsted County, we have an on-line survey that anyone can fill out. Help us learn about our community's health by taking a 15-minute survey. The survey asks questions related to clinical care, the physical environment, personal behaviors and other factors that affect our health. The information compiled will be used by community collaboratives working to improve our collective health. 

The Olmsted County Community Health Needs Assessment is a collaborative effort that began in 2012 and continues to be led by Olmsted County Public Health Services, Olmsted Medical Center, and Mayo Clinic. In addition to these lead agencies, there are numerous community organizations that contribute to the overall process and are committed to keeping our community healthy.


October 8, 2018

Medicare Cost Plans Ending

Medicare can be confusing; especially this year when Medicare Cost Plans will no longer be available for many in our state. This change will affect over 400,000 Minnesotans on Medicare. If you, or someone you know could be affected by this change you can call the Senior LinkAge Line® at 800 333-2433 and talk to an expert. They can help answer your questions and explore plan options. Open enrollment is October 15th – December 7th. The Senior LinkAge Line® is a free service of the state of Minnesota that connects older Minnesotans and their families with the help they need.

You can also watch the video from the Minnesota Board of Aging that describes the process and what you need to do during open enrollment.


September 26, 2018

Flu Shot Clinics Begin Oct 2, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. The sooner you get vaccinated the more likely you are to be protected against the flu when activity begins to spread in the community (typically October - March). Flu shots are available at Public Health, 2100 Campus Drive SE, Rochester beginning October 2, 2018. Due to the high demands from the public when flu vaccines are first offered, we've extended our immunization hours to accommodate those wishing to get their flu shots at Public Health. Flu shots are offered on a walk-in basis; no appointment is needed.

Special Flu Shot Clinic Hours

October 2, 3 and 4

8:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Flu shots are covered by Medicare and Medical Assistance. Please call us at 507.328.7500 if you have any questions.  


September 21, 2018

Community Health Needs Assessment Surveys To Be Mailed Week of
September 24, 2018


The third Community Health Needs Assessment Survey for Olmsted County will be mailed to 2000 randomly selected households throughout Olmsted County beginning September 24, 2018. Information from the community survey provides valuable information which will help community leaders define and clarify the most pressing health priorities in our area and inform collaborative initiatives to improve health for all in our community. The survey takes an estimated 15 minutes to complete and asks questions related to clinical care, the physical environment, personal behaviors and other factors that affect our health. To get the best and most accurate information and data about our community, we rely on people completing and returning the survey in a timely manner. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary and all answers are strictly confidential; no identifying information will ever be linked to any of the responses.

The Community Health Needs Assessment is a collaborative effort that began in 2012 and continues to be led by Olmsted County Public Health Services, Olmsted Medical Center, and Mayo Clinic. In addition to these lead agencies, there are numerous community organizations that contribute to the overall process and are committed to keeping our community healthy.


September 13, 2018

Minnesota's Adult Obesity Rate
Remains below 30%

Minnesota's adult obesity rate rose slightly to 28.4 percent in 2017, yet we continued to outperform neighboring states with a slower rate of increase. Minnesota is the only state in the Upper Midwest to stay below 30%.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) researchers analyzed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2017 and found that physical activity and diet continue to have a significant influence on Minnesota's obesity rates. According to 2017 data, Minnesotans who reported some physical activity in the past 30 days had a lower obesity rate than those who did not. Lower obesity rates were also found for those who reported eating at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables per day.

"The latest information from the CDC emphasizes that we have more work to do in our state," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. "At the same time, it shows that Minnesota is outperforming our neighbors. Plus, our analysis shows healthy eating and physical activity make a difference. This underscores the value of our Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) and other initiatives that increase opportunities for people around the state to eat healthier and move more."

SHIP works across Minnesota to implement locally led strategies that expand access to healthy food and physical activity in neighborhoods, schools, worksites and health care settings. It also supports state initiatives to improve and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure and national efforts to promote walking and walkable communities.


August 8, 2018

Collaborative School-Located Immunization Program Includes the Nasal Spray This Year

Everyone needs the influenza vaccine each year, especially children. Kids easily spread influenza in school settings and then carry the virus home to their families. Research has found that, although a healthy adult has around a seven percent chance of getting influenza any given season, school kids have around a twenty percent chance each year. That's why Olmsted Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County Public Health, Dodge County Public Health, and area private and public schools have once again teamed up for the 10th year to offer influenza vaccinations at nearly all schools throughout Olmsted County and the Kasson/Mantorville schools in Dodge County between September 17 and October 16, 2018. "This is truly a group of organizations collaborating with all their robust resources and making the health of the community a priority," says Leah Espinda-Brandt, Nurse Manager for Disease Prevention and Control at Olmsted County Public Health.

School-located vaccines are fast, easy, and convenient for both parents and children to keep this preventable disease out of the classroom. All vaccines in the schools are administered by Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, or Dodge County (Kasson/Mantorville only) nurses. The vaccine will be billed directly to the child's insurance and will be recorded in the child's electronic medical record. This year both the shot and nasal spray form of the vaccine will be available. For those children getting the shot, nursing staff will offer non-medication pain-reducing topical coolant sprays and other distractions proven to reduce pain. "We are striving to make the influenza vaccine available to all school children. Vaccination of school-aged children is the most effective way to prevent outbreaks of influenza within the school setting and the community," says Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, Medical Director for the Employee and Community Health Immunization Program at Mayo Clinic.

Sign up is required. On-line sign up begins August 8th and parents can sign their kids up until September 12th.  On-line sign up is preferred; however, paper forms are available at the children's schools.

To find out more, which schools are taking part, and how to sign up your children, please visit:   


June 29, 2018

Extreme Heat Friday and Saturday

Due to extremely hot weather predicted for Friday and Saturday, the City of Rochester, Olmsted County Public Health Services, and Olmsted County Emergency Management announce ways to beat the heat:

  • Rochester Public Transit is offering free rides on Friday and Saturday.  This will allow residents who need transportation an easy method to get to a cool place.  Just tell the bus driver you are taking the free offer for "A Cool Place to Be."
  • Take a trip to the pool - Foster-Arend is a free un-guarded swimming area for a cool dip.
    • Foster Arend Beach hours are 12 Noon – 8:00 pm daily.   
    • Soldiers Field Pool: Noon to 5 PM on Thursday; Noon to 8 PM on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday ($1 off admission on Friday)
    • Silver Lake Pool: Noon to 8 PM on Thursday; Noon to 5 PM on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday ($1 off admission on Friday)
  • Go shopping - big box stores, shopping centers, and other retail stores are cool inside
  • Watch a movie - a cool get-a-way can be found inside an air conditioned theater
  • Read a book - Rochester Public Library offers cool places to read and beat the heat. RPL is open on Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 9:00 pm, Friday 9:30 am - 5:30 pm, and Saturday 9:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Visit the Recreation Center, located at 21 Elton Hills Dr NW, and take advantage of the cool space and bleacher seating.

Caution - Think Twice in High Heat

  • Never leave pets or children in the car - even for a minute!
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water -- Not alcohol
  • Check on your neighbors, friends and family members - especially those who are older, those without air-conditioning, and those with health issues.
  • Limit your time outdoors, including activities such as sports, lawn mowing, and home improvement projects.


June 5, 2018

Paint the Playground Event

The City of Rochester will soon have the first Bicycle Playground in the State! On Monday, June 4 the Minnesota Commissioner of Health presented opening remarks at the kick off event. The new Bicycle Playground is located between the Silver Lake Pool and Skate Park and should be ready for use in a couple of weeks once all the painting is completed.

The "playground" is an innovative, visual, and creative way to provide children a safe environment to learn and improve their bike skills, and learn safety skills. Thanks to our many community partners who worked so hard to make this playground a reality. The benefits are numerous, including access to physical activity in a safe, secure, and fun environment.


May 30, 2018

Tickborne Diseases on the Rise 

Despite the late spring, warm temperatures now are bringing Minnesotans outdoors, and putting us at risk for exposures to ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. In 2017, Minnesota saw near record numbers of infections transmitted by the backlegged tick and mosquitoes. Peak season for ticks is from May through July, and people are more likely to get tick bites and tickborne diseases than any other time of year in the United States. It's especially important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones (including pets) from ticks during this season, as well as any time during warmer months when you're outside. Whether you're working outdoors, camping, hiking or hunting, remember:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.

  • Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pans and shoes

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET for your skin and Permethrin for clothes. Always follow product instructions.

  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and may also bring ticks into your home. Ask your veterinarian how to protect your pets.

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.

  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away.


May10, 2018

MDH warns of fraudulent calls posing as health department

Minnesotans and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) appear to have been subjected to a "spoofing" attack. Spoofing is a practice used to falsify the telephone number or name on caller IDs to disguise the identity of the real caller.

MDH has received reports of such callers posing as MDH and requesting personal and business information, including credit card numbers. These calls have been designed to appear to come from MDH's main phone number (651-201-5700). These calls are not being made by MDH, and MDH urges recipients of suspicious calls to not give out any personal or financial information.

With the increased use of technology that allows people to make calls using the internet, spoofing has become more common.

If you get a call that seems suspicious, don't give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves will pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies or government organizations to get people to reveal their personal financial information. The best response is to hang up and call the number on the agency's website to find out if the person or organization that supposedly called you actually needs the information.

Minnesotans can protect themselves by keeping the following in mind:

  • Legitimate public health calls do not ask for social security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Legitimate callers should be able to provide specific, verifiable contact information, such as that of their supervisor or work unit.
  • If you have been the victim of identity theft, contact your local police department.


May 8, 2018

Ten Minnesota illnesses linked to national E.coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce

Health officials are telling people not to eat romaine lettuce unless they are certain it is not from the Yuma region.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and public health agencies in other states to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections associated with eating romaine lettuce.

"Do not eat, buy, or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region," said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases section. "The Yuma growing region includes part of western Arizona and extends into the Imperial Valley of southeastern California, but does not include Salinas Valley or other growing regions in California." Product from the Yuma growing region should no longer be on sale; however, individuals should check their refrigerators for romaine lettuce that may have been grown in the Yuma region.

Approximately 135 cases of E.coli 0157 are reported each year in Minnesota. More information on E.coli 0157 and how to prevent it can be found on the MDH E.coli website


May 2, 2018

Annual Rabies Vaccination Clinics to be held on June 6, 2018

The annual rabies vaccination clinic for dogs, cats and ferrets sponsored by Olmsted County Veterinarians and Olmsted County Public Health Services, will be Wednesday, June 6. This year's rabies vaccination clinic will mark the 60th year that the event has been sponsored.  Dogs, cats, and ferrets will be vaccinated for $20 each.  Pet owners are encouraged to bring their animals within pet carrier devices or on a leash and to bring their previous rabies certificate. 

This is an excellent opportunity for pet owners to help protect their pet(s), their families, and their community from the risk of rabies. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health reports that the majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals like skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons. Wild animals may often be a source of rabies exposure for domestic pets and livestock. The domestic pets and livestock most often reported rabid are cats, dogs and cattle.  View all the participating veterinarians, locations and hours.


April 3, 2018

Olmsted County Public Health Awards Annual Recognition Ceremony

In celebration of National Public Health Week (April 2-8, 2018) a recognition ceremony for the 2018 Public Health Award recipients was held on April 3rd during the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting in the Government Center. The Public Health Awards honor individuals, groups, businesses, and agencies for their exceptional contributions in making our communities a healthier place to live, learn, work and play. 

The 2018 Olmsted County Public Health Award recipients are:

1) Outstanding Partnership Award:  R-Neighbors

R-Neighbors is an integral component in improving social connections among neighbors and organize a dozens of projects and community-wide efforts, along with civic engagement opportunities. R-Neighbors is active in a Litter Bit Better, NeighborWoods Citizen Forester Program and tree planting, and has partnered with Public Health on several creative crosswalk projects around elementary schools designed to slow traffic and improve safety for children riding and walking in their neighborhoods. R-Neighbors works collaboratively with the City of Rochester (i.e., mayor's office, Public Works, Police Department), School Administrations, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and many others to create sustainable change to make our community safer, healthier, and more vibrant.

2) Public Health Champion Individual Award: Lynn Nelson

Lynn Nelson has been helping to promote health and wellness to our youth for 35 years. In addition to her teaching responsibilities within the Rochester School District, Lynn successfully wrote dozens of grants to purchase physical education and nutrition equipment, purchase specific items for special needs students, and to send students to national camps, Viking events, and statewide competitions. She founded the All City track meet to bring together Rochester schools, and started the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program as a platform to develop student leaders. She leads the Jamming Jumpers and a Hip Hop dance team who have performed at High Schools, RCTC games, and at the Eagles Cancer Telethon. Lynn's commitment to students has empowered students of all ages to understand their bodies, how to "fuel" for success, and gain confidence in themselves all while having a little bit of fun along the way. 

3) Public Health Champion Group Award: Recovery Is Happening

Recovery is Happening (RIH), an independent, grassroots, non-profit organization led and supported by the local recovery community, is focused on mobilizing resources that enhance long-term recovery from substance use issues through education, advocacy and peer support.  Prior to RIH, people struggling with addiction didn't have a resource for next steps. Now, RIH hosts many recovery support and discussion groups, and weekly programs run by volunteers and staff. Since the organization began, they have held 6 Recovery Coach Academies and trained 62 peer recovery specialists who made 727 recovery community connections. They've also trained 13 volunteers who made 1687 support calls to struggling individuals. In 2016, RIH opened two sober living homes: one for men and another for women. They also have a Recovery Parent Partners program and offer a one-year intensive outpatient treatment program. The strong and dedicated RIH staff, volunteers and committed supporters, are making a lasting difference in the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors.


March 15, 2018

New Rankings Show Just
How Healthy We Are

Olmsted County continues to rank in the top quartile for both Health Outcomes (today's health) and Health Factors (tomorrow's health) for the ninth year in a row, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.  Clinical care and individual health behaviors were areas of strength. The report shows several measures where we are extremely strong, and other measures where improvements in policies, systems, and environments could benefit the health of our residents. "All counties can take action to make improvements, no matter where they rank" says Dawn Beck, Associate Director for Olmsted County Public Health Services.  "It's not a race to the top; it's about progress toward better health for all."

The report demonstrates that where we live, work, learn and play matters to health. Good health allows people to fulfill their potential and thrive. The Rankings make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors that go beyond medical care such as the food environment, education, safety, social connections and access to physical activity opportunities – factors that we, collectively, can do something about. Minnesota is consistently considered one the "healthiest states", yet significant health inequities exist. The Rankings, along with the 2017 Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment and the 2016 Olmsted County Community Health Needs Assessment, help us look at how different conditions in our communities create or limit optimal health, and develop actions plans to address them.  One way is by investing in upstream health improvement efforts, such as the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). This sustained funding to MN counties is essential to helping achieve long-term improvements in the conditions that lead to better health for all residents and help contain the rising health care costs.

The detailed County Health Rankings are available for viewing at 


January 30, 2018

Public Health Champion Award

Nominate Someone Today!

We know there are many people quietly committed to making Olmsted County a healthier place to live, work, work and play. The Public Health Awards Program helps us to give credit, appreciation and recognition to these extraordinary people and groups for their continued contributions and partnership efforts aimed at improving the health of individuals, families and communities in Olmsted County.

Public Health Champion Award recognizes, honors and thanks an individual, group or program whose service and activities have improved and strengthened the lives of families, neighborhoods and community. Nominations are simple, easy and convenient. Simply complete the Champion Nomination Form on or before March 1, 2018. Please consider nominating a Public Health Champion today! If you have questions, please call Kari Etrheim at 328-7424 or email:

The 2018 Awards will be presented on April 3, 2018 at the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting.  All are invited to attend and help celebrate our local health champions and partners.


January 5, 2018

January is Radon Awareness Month

Because of our geography, soil and the construction of our homes, residents of Olmsted County may live in homes that have high levels of radon gas. In fact, over 55% of homes tested for radon in SE Minnesota have elevated levels. Mitigation systems can significantly reduce radon levels in your home. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can be harmful at elevated levels. Every home is different; the only way to know if your home has dangerous levels of radon gas is to test.

January is a perfect time to test your home for radon. Radon test kits are available at Olmsted County Public Health, 2100 Campus Drive SE, Rochester, for $21. This fee includes analysis and consultation with one of our radon specialists. Our test kit is easy to use -- just place the canister in an out of way location in your basement, open the top, let it sit for 4 to 7 days, and return to Public Health. We will follow up with you once the analysis is complete.