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

April 15, 2024
Meet 40-year laboratory scientist Mary Louise Kolodziej who works behind the scenes every day to support screening, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of disease. Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is an annual celebration that highlights the contributions of laboratory professionals. This year’s theme, The Future is Lab, celebrates laboratory professionals who meet today’s evolving patient care and public health challenges with resilience, innovation, and expertise. In Fairfax County, Public Health Laboratory Scientist Mary Louise Kolodziej has spent the last 40 years doing her part to identify and slow the spread of disease in Fairfax. “When I was little, I really wanted to be a teacher,” said Mary Louise. “But I began watching Quincy, M.E. [a crime investigation and mystery series on TV] and he [actor Jack Klugman] worked in a lab and figured things out… I thought, ‘wow, this is really neat!’.” Inspired by her favorite TV show, Mary Louise took accelerated science courses in high school and explored the possibilities of working in a lab. She attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA and earned a degree in biology in 1982. Mary Louise’s first job out of college was for the Fairfax County Health Department as a laboratory aide. At the time, the Health Department’s laboratory was located in a small square building on Chain Bridge Road next to the Masey building. “Back then, we were called microbiologists and chemists. The lab conducted urinalyses, serology testing, hematology, environmental and water testing, rabies testing… and we had a designated area for tuberculosis [TB] testing,” said Mary Louise. “We also used a lot of glassware back in the day – we ran the autoclave to sterilize and decontaminate, and we physically went out into the field to collect specimens.” Lab professionals often work behind the scenes. Even though they don’t interact directly with patients, their work is instrumental in health outcomes. Few people understand the critical nature of the testing they perform every day. An estimated 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient's diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission, and discharge are based on laboratory test results. Doctors rely on laboratory test results to make informed patient diagnoses. While patient history and physical symptoms are vital, most diagnoses require confirmation through laboratory testing. “You have to be organized, pay attention to detail, and have good communication skills,” said Mary Louise. “Even though we don’t see the patients, the specimens BECOME our patients.” During the early part of her career, Mary Louise was particularly drawn to Tuberculosis testing. “…but we only screened specimens by reading slides and observing growth on culture media,” said Mary Louise. “Cultures that grew would be shipped to the public health lab in Richmond for identification and susceptibility testing.” Under the guidance of the lab director at the time, Mary Louise was tasked with bringing TB testing fully in-house. She was sent to Richmond to work with the Virginia Department of Health technologists to learn how they conducted TB testing and brought those skills back to Fairfax, which soon became the second public health laboratory in Virginia certified to conduct full TB testing. Over the years, her affinity for TB testing has caught the eye of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) who photographed Mary Louise demonstrating proper TB testing techniques which are now a part of the APHL TB training modules. She’s also been invited to speak on the inner workings of the TB Laboratory at the annual TB Control and Newcomer Health Nurse Training Program for Virginia public health nurses working with TB clients. And Mary Louise was honored with the annual American Lung Association of Virginia Award with honors significant contributions to prevent and control TB in Virginia. During her tenure with the Health Department, Mary Louise has witnessed firsthand how laboratory sciences have adapted to changes within the community. She was instrumental in assisting the lab adding HTLV-III testing (before it was called HIV/AIDs) and was a part of the team that brought on hepatitis and chlamydia testing. “Those were the days when we had to cart our own microscopes and our bag of supplies to each district office during STI clinic hours,” said Mary Louise, adding “There’s always some new organism or new disease – it’s critical that we stay up to date, attend conferences, continue our education. Over the years, we’ve added toxicology and testing for drug use and misuse. When COVID came, that was a major undertaking. We handled thousands upon thousands of specimens and rearranged our lab for PCR [polymerase chain reaction] equipment. We even had to open a second lab, the Burkholder building, to accommodate our testing.” And while Mary Louise has more than 40 years with the Health Department lab, there is no risk of her slowing down quite yet. “One day I’ll hang up my lab coat and fade into the sunset,” Mary Louise shared jokingly. “I don’t plan to do anything too exciting when I retire – I am looking forward to just being able to kick back, put my feet up, and not have to go anywhere.”
Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu and other Health Department staff accepting the proclamation from the Board of Supervisors
April 1, 2024
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaim April 1-7 as Public Health Week Each year, National Public Health Week is observed to recognize public health contributions and call attention to issues that are important to improving our nation's health. This National Public Health Week, April 1 -7, the theme: “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving” is centered around the interconnectedness of individuals, communities, and the world around us.  Health is more than health care and strong public health systems are critical for sustaining and improving community health and resiliency. Our health department team works, often behind the scenes, to protect, promote and improve the health and wellbeing of our diverse community. We are doing that by leveraging lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing to take action to meet the evolving issues that impact our community. Emerging and reemerging issues include communicable diseases, chronic conditions, climate change, emergency preparedness, health literacy, mental health and substance use. Over the next five years, we are committed to prioritizing in four areas: embedding equity in all aspects of our work, strengthening intentional community relationships grounded in trust, ensuring a thriving and inspired workforce, and equipping a robust, innovative organization to meet needs into the future. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has designated April 1 -7 Public Health Week. Watch the proclamation reading along with Director of Health Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu’s remarks (minutes ~40:00 - 48:00 of the meeting):
Text: "Three tips for spring travel" over a photo of a mom with her three young kids and luggage in an airport
March 12, 2024
If you are traveling this spring, here are three reminders to help you stay healthy while you’re away. Get up to date on your vaccines. It’s important to be up to date on recommended routine immunizations before you travel, including Flu, RSV and COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated, international travel increases your chances of getting and spreading diseases that are not common in the United Sates, like measles. Plan ahead so the vaccines have time to work with your body’s immune system. Learn more about international travel immunizations. Know before you go. The CDC shares health recommendations for destinations across the globe. When you plan your itinerary, check for travel health notices, recommended vaccines and medicines, other ways you can stay safe and healthy, and sample packing check lists. Search for your destination. Stay safe and healthy at your destination. Whether you choose a warm or cold destination, pack the right clothing and protective gear. And remember healthy habits while you have fun. Here are some examples: Protect yourself from the sun with clothing, hats, and sunscreen. Wear bug spray and take other steps to fight the bite from insects that can spread diseases. Wash your hands often. Pack hand sanitizer in case soap and water isn’t readily available. Think about what you eat and drink: choose safer foods and drinks and avoid drinking too much alcohol. Practice safer sex and use condoms to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections. Find more travel advice for before, during, and after your trip. Visit our web page and follow us on social media for updates on respiratory viruses and other health topics.
News and updates!
March 7, 2024
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated recommendations for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. The CDC revised isolation guidelines for respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19, flu, RSV, and infections where the cause is not known. New guidance recommends if you become ill with a respiratory virus, stay home and away from others for at least 24 hours until symptoms improve, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without use of a fever-reducing medication. It also recommends using core and additional prevention strategies for 5 days after returning to normal activities.  These new recommendations are for the general population and non-healthcare settings. Learn more about the recommendations and prevention strategies. Read the announcement from CDC. CDC now recommends adults ages 65 years and older receive an additional dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendation acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in older adults. See the CDC announcement. We continue to encourage everyone to stay up to date with recommended immunizations and maintain healthy habits to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Visit our web page and follow us on social media for updates on respiratory viruses and other health topics.

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Working in public health provides opportunities to make a difference in your community. Learn more about full-time, part-time, and internship positions.

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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