POMEROY — The scope of services provided by the Meigs County Health Department, a tax supported agency, is long and varied and covers many programs geared to helping residents maintain a quality of life they might not otherwise have.
Those services confirm the value of public health agencies in both the community and the schools where an emphasis these days is being placed on wellness through prevention.
According to a recent Health Department report much is being done in the way of expanding public health wellness programs along with improving environmental health, and through collaborating with other agencies in emergency preparedness programs to make residents feel safer.
Larry Marshall, Health Commissioner, describes the agency as consisting of various departments managing Environmental Health, Vital Statistics, the WIC Program (Women, Infants and Children,) Public Health Nursing, Emergency Preparedness and Healthy Community and School programs.
The leadership of the agency, financed with tax dollars generated from a levy along with federal and state grant funding, operates under the health commissioner and includes Courtney Midkiff, assistant administrator; Leanna Cunningham, BSN RN, nursing director, and Steve Swatzel environmental director.
The Health Department serves the community under the jurisdiction of the Meigs County Board of Health which is composed of Roger Gaul, president; Gene Jeffers, president pro tem; Dr. James Witherell, Jim Clifford, Jr., Donna Corsi, and the medical director and coroner, Dr. Doug Hunter.
According to Marshall, 2012 was a busy year which included an expansion of existing services and implementation of some new collaborating services to better serve the community.
As for the role of Swatzel in environmental health, he reports that last year 352 inspections were made at 150 licensed food service operations and retail food outlets, that 4,500 scrap tires were collected and removed, that 85 site evaluations for household sewage treatment systems and small flow sanitary systems were made with inspections being carried out on 57 systems for installation permits, that 52 animal bites and rabies investigations were completed, and health safety inspections were conducted in all three school districts.
Also included in the environmental health activities of the agencies were investigations of public health nuisances such as improper sewage disposal, indoor mold complaints and poor living conditions in rental properties, open dumping and burning of solid waste and/or garbage, mosquito habitat in abandoned private swimming pools and ornamental ponds, along with some unhealthy agricultural practices.
As for WIC, under the guidance of Cunningham, last year services were provided for more than 700 infants and children. 3,001 immunizations were administered, programs on reproductive health were available to both men and women, and information on cancer awareness and detection through appropriate tests were offered during various times of the year.
Emergency preparedness is another area of concentration for the agency, Marshall said. He reported that by collaborating with the Emergency Management Agency and the Emergency Medical Services disaster impact can be mitigated through cooperative planning and response. He described the Health Department as a “partner in the broad response to protect our population” as was done during the 2012 summer heat wave when cooling stations were opened around the county.
Another much-used service of the agency is the maintenance of a vital statistics department. Last year 161 deaths were reported, 989 birth and death certificates were issued, and 156 burial or cremation permits were issued.
Marshall also described the Health Department as an agency committed to working with community and school leaders on health issues. He said this includes action programs for residents and school leaders aimed at reducing obesity, encouraging an increase in exercise, and providing nutritional resources and education.