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Health department changes name

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The Salt Lake City-County Health Department has changed its name to better reflect its mission.

During a news conference last week, Dr. Kathryn N. Vedder, executive director, announced the new name as Salt Lake Valley Health Department, a change that was made because so many of the cities in the county felt like it wasn't their department.

The department was formed in 1971 by combining the two separate departments, one in Salt Lake City and one in the county. At that time, the number of people served was comparatively small. Now, it serves nearly a million people, three-fourths of them in one of the 15 cities or towns in the county.

Because of that demographic change, Salt Lake City will lose some of its representation on the department's board of health, something Mayor Rocky Anderson didn't mind, according to Jane Reister-Conard, board chairwoman.

She said the board of health discovered that many of the towns felt disenfranchised when the board was conducting public hearings prior to raising fees for swimming pool inspection, food service inspection and on waste disposal.

"There was a perception this health department was not their department of health," she said.

For more than a year the board has visited with communities, city councils and the Conference of Mayors to assure them the department's mission is to serve everyone in the county.

South Salt Lake Mayor Randy Fitts, who serves on the board, was quick to point out that "I never heard anyone say we need to be selective in who we serve." But that was the perception.

The department also unveiled its new logo, which shows "caring" hands cupping mountains, canyons and a stream. The logo and name will be used in each city's printed materials as well to show that the health department serves the entire valley's public health needs, said Jana Carlson-Kettering, department spokeswoman.

E-MAIL: lois@desnews.com