Women’s health office facing big challenges

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 26, 2002

Jessica Hardy achieved her dream of becoming a nurse some years ago. Now, she’s out to make history.

A Registered Nurse, Hardy attended Troy State University on a nursing scholarship and received her masters in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Now she’s been tapped to head the newly formed Office of Women’s Health. The office, which is part of the state Department of Public Health, was created by the Legislature and signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Don Siegelman specifically to address women’s health issues.

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The office is charged primarily with educating the public regarding women’s health issues and with assisting the state health officer in identifying, coordinating and establishing priorities for programs and services the state should provide for women’s health concerns.

Hardy describes herself as &uot;a people person&uot; who likes to proclaim the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

Much of Hardy’s nursing career thus far has taken place outside the traditional model of a bedside nurse. She began her career as an emergency room and intensive care unit nurse and gradually moved into administration.

She has held a number of positions within the Department of Public Health, including assistant state nursing director. She also served as director of nursing at Perry County Hospital and Nursing Home in Marion and as the assistant operating room manager at Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma.

She is the wife of Frank Hardy, executive director of the Selma Youth Development Center.

Hardy noted that part of the challenge her office faces will be seeing that the information on various women’s health issues is disseminated to those most in need of receiving it.

Hardy said Alabama has made great strides in women’s reproductive health care, but lags in other areas, such as cancer detection, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Hardy said that is significant because &uot;women tend to act as the gatekeepers for the family as far as health care.&uot;

Hardy said the office is still in the planning stages at this point. She predicted that the first advisory meeting will be held this fall and that the office would be up and running by spring.