Janel Rose spent Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning out her office, a monumental task she had to complete by week’s end. You see, Rose is retiring after 28 years as the Barton County Health Department as public health educator, and that’s a lot of time for stuff to accumulate.
“I have to be out of here by Friday,” an exasperated Rose said, sitting her office stacked with boxes. “It is not good.”
Rose will be honored at a come-and-go reception from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Barton County Health Department, 1300 Kansas Avenue, Great Bend. Community members are invited to attend.
“In a nutshell, I enjoy working with groups of people for the betterment of our entire community,” she said. In her nearly three decades working for the citizens of Barton County, she has seen a lot of changes.
A moving target
“The job sure has evolved,” she said. She started out going into classrooms but now she focuses more on policies and systems.
“Technology has changed the way I work, and the speed of communication and has a huge influence on everything that I do compared to when I began,” Rose said. “Public health is evolving, sometimes very quickly.”
Rose, a graduate of Fort Hays State University with a master’s degree from Kansas State University, began her career as a secondary school teacher at Hoisington High School and Ransom High School.
“My career as a teacher led me to being a public health educator where I have the opportunity to teach people of all ages,” she said.
That was in 1991. Since then, she has initiated multiple grant projects to inform and address needs identified in Barton, and partner counties.
A lot has happened
From earlier days with HIV education and bringing the AIDS Quilt to Barton County and the Breast and Cervical Cancer project, to smoke-free restaurants and tobacco-free schools and youth tobacco prevention, Rose has helped lead projects that have improved community health.
Other initiatives that have her stamp include suicide prevention, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the master bike and pedestrian plan implementation in Barton and Rice counties. She was a founding force of the Central Kansas Partnership.
“It has been my pleasure to coordinate the Central Kansas Partnership, our coalition that addresses chronic disease risk reduction, suicide prevention, alcohol and drug prevention, promotion of breastfeeding through Central Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, and increasing physical activity opportunities through Be Well Barton County.”
In addition, she has initiated multiple grant projects to inform and address needs identified in Barton and partner counties. She also helped start the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program for Seniors in Barton County along with multiple partners in 2017.
Down the road
Looking to the future, “I expect the public health focus to continue to be on policy, systems and environmental change that will impact the majority of the population in ways that will improve personal and community-level health,” she said. “I think that communities who demonstrate a high level of community livability and progress towards being healthy, vibrant places to live, for an entire lifespan, will grow and move forward.”
Sure, the job has evolved, but there is something that, sadly, has not.
“Some of the work hasn’t changed — tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” Rose said.
Even though she is retiring, there is work left undone, she said. “If I could have one wish about the future concerning public health, it would be the eradication of tobacco use throughout the entire world.”
Closer to home, now comes the job of replacing Rose.
She said applications are being accepted and several have been received. They will be accepted until the position is filled.
A long resume
She is a past president of the Barton County Chapter of the American Association of University Women and serves as the current president of the Central Kansas Partnership. She is a board member for ElderCare and Heartland Farm, and will remain involved professionally in the community.
Rose is particularly proud of the Kansas Public Health Association Virginia Lockhart Health Education Award she received in 1999.
But, she also plans on enjoying her retirement.
“I hope to be able to enjoy more time gardening, sewing, quilting and traveling and generally just having fun,” she said.