The Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division exists to prepare the St. Joseph County Health Department to respond in a public health emergency or disaster in order to achieve optimal public health outcomes for our community.

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of diseases and injuries in human populations. It provides the foundation of public health by improving our understanding of the natural history and etiology of disease, and provides a basis for interventions to address health outcomes.

The Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division provides support to other Divisions within the Health Department in the investigation and surveillance of communicable disease and public health threats. County data reports are also compiled by this Division.

The Division recognizes the value of community planning and a holistic approach to emergency planning. Involving mental health professionals, clergy, community leaders and other influential groups will provide the most comprehensive and unified response. This comprehensive response can then ensure greater public health outcomes following a large scale emergency. The Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division seeks to build new relationships with community leaders who have an interest in public health emergency preparedness.

  • Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division

    Monday – Friday | 8:30a – 4:30p

    574-245-6744 or 574-245-6743

    After Hours Public Health Emergency call the Health Department digital pager at 574-283-4925


The primary focus of the Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division is centered on the planning and organization of medical countermeasure dispensing clinics for the residents of St. Joseph County. These clinics could serve a variety of purposes and would be opened in the event of a public health emergency requiring preventative treatment to segments of the county’s population. Additional planning efforts focus on other public health hazards such as pandemics and communicable disease outbreaks.

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The Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division works to develop and maintain relationships with organizations and groups who are partners in emergency response. Employees from this Division participate in meetings of various groups related to health and medical response.

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A crucial part of preparation for all emergency response agencies is to exercise the plans and procedures that have been developed. The Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness Division coordinates efforts for the St. Joseph County Health Department to routinely test our capabilities in areas such as communication, supplies, and clinic set-up and flow.

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Support Functions

Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) is the grouping of governmental and certain private sector capabilities into an organizational structure to provide support, resources, program implementation, and services that are most likely needed to save lives, protect property and the environment, restore essential services and critical infrastructure, and help victims and communities return to normal following domestic incidents. All county ESFs work under the guidance of the county Emergency Management Agency.

The St. Joseph County Health Department serves as the lead coordinating agency for ESF 8 – Public Health and Medical Services. Below are some of the tasks that ESF 8 may assist with in an emergency:

  • Assessment of public health/medical needs
  • Public health surveillance
  • Medical care personnel
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Patient movement
  • Hospital care
  • Outpatient services
  • Food safety and security
  • Mental health and substance abuse care
  • Public health and medical information
  • Vector control
  • Potable water/wastewater and solid waste disposal, and other environmental health issues
  • Victim identification/mortuary services
  • Veterinary services