County’s health boards both seeking commissioners

By Matt Echelberry

May 16, 2014

Discussions about the future of public health services in the county are likely coming.

The Galion Board of Health is currently seeking a replacement health commissioner, after Dr. Steve Novack requested a reduction of hours at the April meeting. This request comes at a time when the Crawford County General Health District, in Bucryus, posted a position opening for its health commissioner. Its current commissioner, Scott Kibler, announced his retirement recently.

With both entities seeking a commissioner, Mayor Tom O’Leary said it is time for both health boards to meet. A possible facilitated discussion is being planned.

Board member Dennis Long commented that in past discussions with CCGHD, the Galion Health Department would have walked away with less as a result of the negotiation.

All members agreed that for any future meeting, the goals for the Health Department are to improve public health and maintain Galion residents’ access to services.

In the mean time, the city will prepare a job description for the health commissioner position.

The Board also reviewed school nursing contracts for next school year, at Galion City, Galion St. Joe’s, Crestline Exempted Village and Crestline St. Joe’s (the parochial schools use nursing on an as needed basis).

Director of Nursing Sandy Crossland presented cost proposals for review. She explained the Galion superintendent requested proposals for 25 hours per week and 30 hours per week.

The mayor asked how the department would meet the level of services with current staff if Galion requests 30 hours.

The health department has three part-time nurses now. The Board and staff discussed looking at hiring another nurse, but no official decision was made.

A motion was passed to send the proposals to the Galion Board of Education for review.

In the commissioner’s report, Novack reported there was recently a norovirus outbreak at a local facility. Thirty-two residents were symptomatic and two cases were confirmed for norovirus.

The department recently participated in a state-funded Hepatitis C/HIV screening in conjunction with the Crawford County General Health District. Of the 15 people tested for Hepatitis C, eight of them were positive. This is in addition to the 13 confirmed cases the department has reported this year.

There was a discussion about getting people testing positive for this and other communicable diseases signed up for Medicaid at the office, rather than directing them to a website or to Jobs and Family Services in Bucyrus.

In the year to date vital measures, there were 111 births at Galion Hospital and 55 deaths for Galion area residents; average age was 75.

Tim Brown, a counselor with Community Counseling Services, began office hours at the Galion Health Department on May 7. Novack introduced Brown that morning. He will be in Galion every Wednesday.

In regards to state accreditation, which will eventually be required of all health departments, Novack announced Enviromental Health Director Stephanie Zmuda is now the coordinator for Galion’s accreditation process.

However, the Public Health Accreditation Board will not accept the Community Health Assessment conducted by Avita because the department was not a part of it. For the next health assessment, Novack said they will need to be directly involved.