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Health board tours newly remodeled Monett office

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Barry County Health Department Board of Directors held its July meeting at the Monett satellite office to view the recently completed additions to the building.

Board members met in the 28-by-28 foot conference and training room added on the south side of the facility and funded by Missouri Foundation for Health. The grant had been announced when the board held its meeting in Monett in October 2007, but the project advanced slowly due to foundation problems.

The building was finally jacked up and a new foundation bricked up from below. Originally constructed as a house and used for years as a lightly traveled real estate office, the building had developed sagging floors when used heavily by health department clients.

Board Chairman John Starchman said Monett Building Inspector George Rausch considered the foundation work to be exemplary example of how to fix a building.

The lobby of the building more than doubled in size during remodeling. By consolidating an adjacent room, the work station for the attending staff has moved and expanded, leaving more room in the old space for more seating.

Starchman and Health Department Administrator Kathleen King found the arrangement much more accommodating to both clients and staff, more professional and less cramped.

The new addition has a collapsible room divider built into it. Board members closed the room and concluded that while voices were still audible, the arrangement would prove very satisfactory for meetings and training sessions. Exterior doors were built into opposite corners of the room, providing fire exits for both sides in case the wall was closed.

Remodeling and the new addition were done by Bud Lowe Construction of Cassville for $65,738.

Board members spent much of the meeting reviewing the multi-page procedure sheet on the installation of wastewater systems, which will be given to people applying to have a septic system installed. Under the procedure, the homeowner would be responsible for submitting the application and making sure a soil test was done. The name of the backhoe operator would have to be filed with the department, and the environmental specialist would have five working days to review the plan.

Discussion focused on approving wastewater systems prior to construction of a house, and if a septic system should be allowed on an adjacent lot if the main lot proved inadequate. Starchman said the system must be sized to fit the house and could not be approved without seeing the house plans.

Although there were past cases where a septic system had been located on an adjacent property, Starchman said the sale of the second lot could compromise the entire system. Under no conditions, Starchman said, should a septic system or lateral lines be allowed to run under a road or driveway.

King was directed to look at the county's wastewater ordinance to see if the language clearly specifies rules about putting septic tanks on an adjacent property. King offered to look at ordinances from other counties to see how the matter is addressed elsewhere.

Looking at fee services, Starchman said drops in revenue have run consistently. For the first half of 2009, fee income has been down 35 percent. King reported a 5 percent reduction, or $1,375 less, in funding under the Maternal and Child Health Bureau contract had also been announced, beginning Oct. 1.

Expenses for materials and supplies are down by around $5,000, Administrative Assistant Nancy Boyd said, because the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation has taken over the family planning program.

"We see people every day who use our services, because they can't afford anything else," Starchman said. "If it weren't for some of these programs, there wouldn't be any health care at all for some of these people."

King said she had pre-booked flu vaccine supplies for this fall. Board member Dennis Baker said the flu season ahead could be "really ugly." With that in mind, Starchman asked King to boost her order and try to coordinate with the clinics and hospitals in the county to stay abreast of available supplies.

In her administrative report, King said the Community Emergency Response Team sent a $1,000 contract to cover expenses from April and May for dealing with the swine flu response.

Health Literacy Coordinator Grace Grebel reported a new community health coordinator will be offering a training session in August.

Board members commented on how a third of the requests for wastewater permits filed in 2009 came in June, double the number from May.

The patient tally for June showed 1,027 clients served, 39 percent of whom went to the Monett clinic. Of the Hispanics receiving services, 84 percent went to the Monett office.

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