-- — Franklin County has had a public health coordinator since 2007, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and Indiana State Department of Health mandated that each county create a pandemic influenza plan.
Annually, each county must undergo a Division of Strategic National Stockpile Local Technical Assistance Review to assure preparedness for a terrorist attack or other emergency.
Public health coordinator Carol Monroe reported to Franklin County Health Department board members July 24 that the county earned an A- this time, slightly lower than last year. “It takes a lot of volunteers to run a 24-hour operation.”
She said Franklin County Emergency Management Agency personnel, firefighters and other rescuers will attend a four-hour meeting Aug. 13 to fulfill a 2013 grant requirement.
Monroe will resign next month, so FCHD leaders are searching for another coordinator to perform such tasks. Board member Lindsay Jackson, New Fairfield, commended her. “You did a nice job.”
Health officer Dr. Michael Fain noted department officials must apply for grants to fund the position. He reported FCHD supervisor Diane Turney, R.N., is concerned about “the burden that it puts on her. She is unable to give the attention to her nursing” and supervisory duties if she must also write grants.
“The actual hiring of this person is not going to be an easy thing to do” as a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended, he pointed out. Commissioner Tom Wilson suggested a government center part-time employee could take on the full-time coordinator’s job. Even though the employees he was thinking of do not have college degrees, they “are plenty smart enough.”
With Turney not wanting to supervise the coordinator or seek funding, Fain said, “I can see no reason why other county offices could not administer this program.” He recommended that the coordinator answer to EMA.
According to Wilson, “I’d have to ask the other two commissioners if we could move it to our office. We’ll supervise the grant, we’ll hire somebody for that job.” Monroe liked that plan. “You do work a lot with elected officials” and interface with department heads.
Board members voted to move the public health coordinator’s office out of FCHD contingent upon ISDH approval.
The health officer discussed an incident that occurred in May. “An elderly gentleman with a mental health disorder was taking care of a woman with physical health problems” in Laurel. “We were trying to figure out what we could do to get these people safe. They were living in conditions that threatened their health.” Indiana Code allows a health department to declare a building unfit for habitation, he noted.
According to Turney, “Her physician made a home visit and saw how bad it was.” The woman went into a long-term care facility.
“A bigger question came up,” according to Fain. “Nothing ever happens when we call Adult Protection Services.” He learned for that agency to get involved, “there has to be a physician who’s willing to stand up, maybe even in court, to say, ‘This person is a danger to himself’” due to a mental or physical condition.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.