Health Department

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administration office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.
703-246-2411 TTY 711
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Health

What We Do

As an agency of the Fairfax County Health and Human Services System, we work to protect, promote and improve health and quality of life for all who live, work and play in our community. We do this by preventing epidemics and the spread of disease, protecting the public against environmental hazards, promoting and encouraging healthy behaviors, assuring the quality and accessibility of health services, responding to natural and man-made disasters, and assisting communities in recovery. Our vision is for all Fairfax County residents to live in thriving communities where every person has the opportunity to be healthy, safe and realize his or her potential.

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Updates from the Health Department

May 16, 2024
Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Fresh off a weekend 5K, Savita Sood, was excitedly talking about becoming a grandmother for a second time and looking forward to spending quality time with her 2½ old granddaughter who’s already committed to running with Savita in 2025. For those who know Savita, you know she is committed to her family and living a healthy lifestyle. Savita’s love for exercise may only be rivaled by her love for cooking. But you’ll see that same passion come alive when she talks about her work as a Tuberculosis public health nurse for the Fairfax County Health Department where she’s worked for the last 28 years. Savita, who hails from England, was born to parents who grew up in northern India. It was important to her parents that Savita and her siblings foster a deep appreciation for their culture and heritage, so they traveled to India frequently to visit relatives and attended boarding school there for five years. According to Savita, she wanted to become a nurse, but that occupation was discouraged by her family who wanted her to pursue the science track. Conflicted over choosing an occupation, Savita emigrated to the United States and worked as a lab tech. Shortly after coming to the US, her husband suffered a health crisis which pushed Savita to earn her nursing degree to ensure she could support her young family, if necessary. Her first job out of nursing school was as a clinic nurse for the Mount Vernon District Office. Savita loved working with her clients, providing them with the education needed to improve their health. She noticed that clients who came from India paid particular attention to what she had to say. “I found it really makes an impact when I share with my clients that I can speak their language, whether its Hindi, Punjabi, or Urdu,” says Savita. “You can tell they feel safer and more secure when they hear their own language in a foreign land.” While Savita enjoyed working as a clinic nurse, she found herself drawn to helping the residents of Fairfax who suffer from Tuberculosis (or TB), a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air and generally affects the lungs. Not everyone infected with TB germs becomes sick. But they can carry the germs that can make them sick months to many years later - this is known as latent TB infection (or inactive TB). Once TB becomes active, it can make someone very sick and can even cause death. Symptoms include a cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood, weakness, fever and night sweats. TB is found in all countries. Anyone can get TB, but some people are at greater risk of TB than others. This is because of a range of social, economic, and demographic factors. Treatment for TB can take many months, depending on the regimen. Fairfax County Health Department TB nurses help treat clients with TB for extended periods of time, allowing for connections to form. These connections are especially important for people who may have reservations about treatment due to language and cultural barriers. “TB is a big problem in India and there is stigma associated with the disease,” says Savita. “In India it is generally thought of as a disease of the poor, but when I explain that anyone can get TB, not just the poor, there is some reassurance. Through education and being able to connect with my clients, I am able to put their fears to rest and they are more open to treatment.” According to Savita, she makes a point to go to Temple and talk with families. “I volunteer in the free clinic. People get to know me,” says Savita. “It makes a difference.” Over the years, her family has come to regard Savita’s calling and are proud to share how she is changing lives one TB case at a time. Savita says that working at the health department has been a gift. “With the birth of my next grandchild, we are striving to maintain the connections with my family in India,” says Savita. This is what we do, we ensure our culture remains alive for generations to come.” 
Photos of the 2024 Live Healthy Fairfax Award Winners
May 7, 2024
Three Live Healthy Award winners were recognized at the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax Spring meeting last week.   The Live Healthy Fairfax Awards recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrated exemplary leadership and action to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and populations across the Fairfax Health District. Their work aligns with the goals of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), specifically in the areas of Behavioral Health, Healthy Eating/Fairfax Food Council, and Healthy Environment and Active Living. Rebecca Kiessling, Behavioral Health Team Rebecca Kiessling, Behavioral Health Team Rebecca Kiessling, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Northern Virginia is a dedicated advocate for those experiencing mental health challenges.   Working with the diverse population of Northern Virginia, Rebecca serves a wide-range of people including Spanish-speakers, LGBTQ community members, African Americans, working moms, and those who are new to the country. “We have 181 languages represented in our area.  We need to meet people where they are, not where we are,” she says. Rebecca provides support and makes positive change, from speaking one-on-one with someone experiencing a family crisis to bringing together faith-leaders to informing members of Congress on mental health issues. Rebecca works to decrease stigma of mental health in our community, promote connection, belonging and meaning around mental health issues, help individuals develop stress management and coping skills, and increase community awareness of behavioral health issues. The Farm at Halley Rise, Healthy Eating/Fairfax Food Council Team The Farm at Halley Rise, Healthy Eating/Fairfax Food Council Team The Farm at Halley Rise is a place to connect to nature, to community, and to healthy, sustainable, local food in Reston, VA. In 2023 alone, the Farm grew over 1000 pounds of kale, chard, eggplant, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and herbs — all of which was distributed to individuals, families, and nonprofits with limited access to fresh produce. The Farm offers classes on a variety of topics, such as gardening 101, seedling planting, and bouquet making, providing a space for the community to gather and empowering people to start their own gardens.  In addition to making a difference at the community level, The Farm at Halley Rise stands as a model for other developments on how to incorporate agriculture and community into future buildings.  The work of the Farm aligns with two of the CHIP goals: increasing participation in programs that foster active lifestyles and community connections and improving access to fresh and healthy foods for all. Eileen Garnett Civic Space, Healthy Environment and Active Living  Eileen Garnett Civic Space with Project Leads of Laura Baker and Adam Wynn, Healthy Environment and Active Living  Built on the old Annandale Elementary School, the Eileen Garnett Civic Space is a safe gathering place for the Annandale community, consisting of a civic plaza with seating, an educational garden, a great lawn, and an area for community activities and special events. The civic space is an integral part of the community. It increases access to healthy and sustainable food, reduces social isolation and responds directly to the needs and requests of community members. This project was led by Laura Baker of the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives and Adam Wynn at the Fairfax County Park Authority who led the space’s creation. Their efforts brought this project from concept to design to completion in just three years, with the Eileen Garnett Civic Space opening in October of 2023. The space is named after Eileen Garnett, a community champion who was fatally struck by a car during the civic space’s planning phase. Eileen was a strong advocate for the improvement of sidewalks and transportation, building design, signage, streetlights, landscaping and trash removal in Annadale. Through the work of Laura and Adam and the multi-sector partnerships that have been formed, the civic space is delivering on Eileen’s vision of creating a safer and healthier environment for the Annandale community. Congratulations to all Live Healthy Award winners! The Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax is a coalition of community members and organizations working together to explore new approaches for addressing the social determinants of health and other critical public health issues. Learn more about what you can do to get involved by visiting Live Healthy Fairfax.
Fentanyl Facts
May 6, 2024
The third annual National Fentanyl Awareness Day takes place this year on May 7, 2024. Fentanyl Awareness Day is observed to help inform communities like ours about the dangers of illegally made fentanyl. In the Fairfax Health District, emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdoses rose 33% from 2022 to 2023. Opioid overdose ED visits increased 115% among youth under age 18. Across all ages, almost all (95%) fatal opioid overdoses in 2023 involved fentanyl. Illegal fentanyl is dangerous, but you can take steps to prevent overdoses. See the infographic below to get the facts on fentanyl and learn how to help prevent fentanyl overdoses in our community.
Nicole Morales
May 1, 2024
The Fairfax County Health Department honors Nurses Month as a celebration of the tremendous impact that public health nurses have on wellness in our community. The month-long celebration of the nursing profession allows for many opportunities to appreciate the invaluable contributions of nurses. We are all indebted to nurses for their unwavering commitment to patients, their communities, and our healthcare system. Nicole Morales, Nurse of the Year Each year, the Health Department singles out one Public Health Nurse who goes above and beyond in their work, and honors that individual as Public Health Nurse Nurse of the Year. On April 5, that honor was bestowed upon Nicole Morales, a Public Health Nurse Manager in the School Health program. “Being named Nurse of the Year was such a shock, and such an honor,” said Nicole. “It makes me feel very proud that I've had a big impact with the schools and the students I’ve served, and honored that my team would think that of me.” In her role, Nicole oversees 26 public health nurses and 43 school health aides providing health support services in 43 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). Her tireless efforts in recruiting and managing school health aides, as well as her involvement in critical assessment and safety campaigns, are a testament to her commitment to excellence. The fact that her career is focused on the well-being of young people is rooted in her personal experience. Nicole recalls an inspirational nurse she encountered as a young girl. “In high school, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and I had to get a PICC line [peripherally inserted central catheter] put in. So, there was a home visiting nurse that would come once a week, and she would change my site for my PICC line.” Nicole cites not just the physical care that nurse provided, but also the support she got with the other aspects of the illness as the sparks that made her consider a nursing career. But the path to school nurse was far from a straight line. There was a detour that, for a while, saw Nicole on the trail to a pharmacy career. “I was interested in pharmacy because I started working as a pharmacy tech when I was 15 in high school,” said Nicole. “And then when I moved here to Virginia, I started working as a pharmacy tech here at CVS.” Ultimately, it was the realization that she needed to finish the degree she had started that put her back on the road to nursing. First came the nursing classes that led to her degree in Health Systems Management and a desk job working for a health insurance company, a job she kept — working 20 hours a week — while putting herself through nursing school. During her studies at Marymount University, Nicole had another “ah-ha” moment. “In nursing school, I had a school health clinical, and I was with a nurse in Arlington County. I really, really enjoyed that clinical, seeing what the school health nurse did in the school. And that's what really made me choose to do school health nursing.” Nicole Morales receives the Nurse of the Year award from Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Kimberly Smith, and Brian Hochstrasser. In 2018, Nicole was hired as a school public health nurse, and the goal was achieved. Since becoming a school health nurse, there’s one particular public health issue that she’s most passionate about addressing. “In my experience within the schools, I would definitely say it’s pregnant and parenting teens,” said Nicole. “My first school assignment was in a middle school, and I had pregnant middle schoolers every year.” She says that it was the relationship building that allowed the students to feel comfortable in talking with her about maternity services and other community resources they needed. In fact, it was her relationship with her first pregnant student that stands out as a time where she knew she made a difference. “I have found in my experience that pregnant students are not always treated in some offices the same as an adult who's pregnant and getting prenatal care,” said Nicole. “So, this one student would come to me with questions like, ‘What does the baby look like about this week?’ And I would use books that I got from my doctor when I had my kids to show her different pictures and answer her questions. Questions that she was too scared to ask the nurses at the clinic she was going to, she would come in and ask me. ‘I'm feeling like this. Is this normal? Is it not normal?’ Building that relationship with her and then seeing her actually coming back to school after having the baby, was when I said to myself, ‘Oh, you know, I really made a difference.’” What makes nursing so rewarding is the tangible results, and for Nicole it was seeing these young mothers through their greatest challenge. For anyone considering a nursing career, Nicole reminds us that there’s more nursing careers available than just a doctor’s office or hospital setting. “I chose school health as a career goal,” said Nicole. “I knew I did not want to work in a hospital. That was never something that appealed to me. School health nursing is very unique from any other nursing job. Every day is different, and you'll never be bored. If you want to help the community and help school aged children, being a public health nurse within school health is definitely the job for you. It's a very rewarding job.” Learn more about public health nursing and how they make a difference in our community.   

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About the Health & Human Services System

This agency is a part of the Fairfax County Health & Human Services System (HHS). The HHS System is a network of county agencies and community partners that support the well-being of all who live, work and play in Fairfax County.

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