I love living in the community I serve and working to maintain the health and safety of Marin's most vulnerable individuals … those burdened by illness and isolation who are unable to independently access the very care and services they need to thrive. I find that working for the County in the public health sector connects you to all of the community partners who are so dedicated to serving this wonderful community.
— Jan Zaslav, Public Health Nurse, In-Home Support Services, Marin County Department of Health & Human Services
Marin County’s Jan Zaslav is a Public Health Nurse for the Department of Health and Human Services, working with In-Home Support Services (IHSS) to serve and protect the rights of Marin County’s most vulnerable individuals. The opinions expressed here are the individual’s, not necessarily those of Marin County.
1. What department do you work for and how many years have you been with the County?
I work for the Department of Health & Human Services. I started working for the County in 1998 under a grant-funded program interviewing TB clients in San Quentin State Prison — I would conduct follow-up surveillance and medication management of their visitors possibly exposed to TB from the inmate. In 2004, I began working in the Division of Aging & Adult Services with In-Home Support Service (IHSS) clients and Adult Protective Services (APS) clients.
2. In a sentence or two, please describe the work you do.
I currently carry a caseload of 100 IHSS clients assessing their medical needs and providing them with the assistance they need to remain safely in their homes, as opposed to a long-term care facility. Also, I assist the social workers in Adult Protective Services, where we work with adults who have physical or mental limitations restricting their ability to perform normal activities and to protect their rights related to physical, financial, neglect/self-neglect or psychological abuse. I also work with our community partners performing outreach services to our homeless community.
3. What prompted you to focus on public health?
I felt the need to serve the community at large and I love to connect with individuals where they can be found in the community, instead of requiring clients to present themselves to sources of care. Those burdened by illness and isolation are unable to independently access the very care and services they need to thrive.
My work is not boring and you’re never quite sure what you will find on the other side of the door when you visit people in their homes. It presents new challenges every single time.
4. What attracted you to the medical field and what do you enjoy about working for Marin County?
I always enjoyed the study of science and human behavior. Working in the nursing field combines both physical and behavioral sciences in dealing with the individual. I love living in the community I serve and working to maintain the health and safety of Marin's most vulnerable individuals. Also, by working for the County on the front lines of public health, I get to interact with all of the community partners who are so dedicated to serving this wonderful community.
5. What is the biggest challenge you face in your work? Can you give us an example?
The biggest challenge I face is finding the time to meet the extensive and expanding needs of our clientele. Our caseloads are increasing dramatically, and our workforce is decreasing either through attrition or reductions in force. It is resulting in less access to medical care and services in a timely manner for our medically fragile, impoverished population.
6. What have been some of the most rewarding experiences you've had on the job?
My most rewarding experience has been working with our homeless population. These are the folks who have nothing and need everything. I've done extensive work with The Anchor Program out in Richardson Bay in meeting clients medical needs and addressing safety concerns along with the homeless living on the streets. The gratitude you receive from serving this population is the most rewarding experience I've had in my 35-year nursing career.
7. What do you consider a victory on the job?
Working with a homeless client who is ill and does not know how to access services. I work assisting them in finding a primary care physician, medical follow-up, housing, family reunification, detoxing and insurance issues. I truly believe our work with the homeless has saved lives and prevented people from dying alone under a freeway ramp or in an encampment.