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Barry Health Dept. gets update on H1N1 virus

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Barry County Health Department Board of Trustees received an update on emergency planning regarding the H1N1 virus at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 17.

Administrator Kathleen King reported that the health department will host two meetings on Oct. 8, which will target business professionals in Barry County. The meetings will be held at the Crowder College Cassville Center auditorium at 9 a.m. and the Monett Chamber of Commerce at 4 p.m.

Starchman asked King to distribute information about the meetings to local school districts, industries and businesses.

The health department will also host a meeting for local medical professionals at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 8. This meeting will be designed for hospital and clinic employees, pharmacists, first responders and other medical personnel. It will be held at the Cassville Center auditorium.

A fourth informational meeting will be designed to educate long-term care facility employees. It will be held at the Monett Chamber of Commerce at 2 p.m.

According to King, when the vaccine is initially released in October, it will be earmarked for the following individuals: pregnant women; individuals who are between 6 months and 24 years of age; healthcare professionals; first responders; individuals with chronic diseases; and childcare providers.

"The vaccine is provided by the federal government," said King. "We will not have any cost to administer the vaccine except our staff time."

Although the health department will not charge a fee to administer the H1N1 immunization, it will be responsible for distributing the vaccine to private healthcare professionals who can charge patients an administrative fee.

King recommended the board consider scheduling immunization clinics to administer the H1N1 vaccine.

"We are a public health department," said John Starchman, board chairman. "I think we should make the vaccine available here on a walk-in basis."

Carol Landstad, health department public health program coordinator, pointed out that extra staff members will be needed to administer the vaccine to walk-in patients. Although private healthcare providers will be recruited to help administer the vaccine, Landstad said that she feels scheduled clinics will be the most effective way to distribute the vaccine.

"If we limit vaccinations only to certain days, my fear is that we will be inundated with people who want it," said Starchman. "You also have to consider individuals who cannot attend the clinics but who would still like to receive the vaccine."

Board member Dennis Baker suggested the health department recommend individuals visit its offices on a certain day of the week to receive the H1N1 vaccine. Extra staff members will be available at the offices on that day to serve individuals seeking immunizations.

The board made no decision regarding which day of the week residents will be encouraged to visit the health department for the H1N1 vaccine.

The local health department will receive $118,372 to help educate community members about the H1N1 virus and administer the vaccine. King suggested the board use a portion of the funding to purchase a larger refrigeration unit to house the vaccine and a new network server to increase file security for immunization records.

In old business, Marlene Whitham, Kornerstone director, addressed the board concerning a request to utilize office space at the health department each week. The office space will be used by Lisa Miller, who oversees Kornerstone's Teen Moms Program.

"This would help with our transportation costs," said Whitham. "Around 92 percent of our teen moms live in the Cassville School District. The office space would be used for personal meetings with teens enrolled in the program."

Donated office space would need to provide privacy, a telephone and a desk with two or three chairs. Internet access would also be beneficial to Miller during her meetings, said Whitham.

After discussing the request, the board decided to allow Kornerstone to use its breastfeeding room one day a week. The board directed King to write an agreement for office space usage, which will be signed by Whitham and the board before Miller begins using the office space.

Baker asked King to include a statement in the agreement that specifies the health department is not responsible for the content of the counseling sessions and does not endorse or supervise the services. The agreement will also include a termination policy that allows either the health department or Kornerstone to terminate the agreement with a 30-day notice.

In other business, the Barry County Health Department Board of Trustees:

* Authorized King to sell an unused computer to a staff member for $25 plus costs associated with erasing the hard drive.

* Approved a request to hold the health department's annual holiday luncheon on Dec. 15.

* Reviewed the service fees, service count, environmental and Health Education Literacy Project reports.

* Heard that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' core functions funding will be decreased 3.5 percent next year. The local health department's funding will decrease by around $1,975.

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