Greene County Public Health took a break from celebrating its centennial in March to bring you an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s time that we continue our journey through the decades of public health in Greene County. We are catching up by looking at activities and events that took place during the 1950s.
Greene County experienced rapid population grown in the 1950s. The need for personal and environmental services expanded.
In the 1950s the removal, care and treatment of tuberculosis patients was ordered to be paid by the county of residence of the patient. By court order, $2,000 from the county tuberculosis fund held by the county commissioners had to be transferred to the health district fund.
In 1951 there were nine employees and they moved into new quarters in the north wing of Greene Memorial Hospital, built with federal assistance from the Hill-Burton Act. In 1952, communicable disease laws were passed, and in 1953, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare was created under President Eisenhower.
An issue arose over the payment of phone bills where the health fund would need to reimburse the county’s general fund. The board discussed requesting an attorney general opinion of who was responsible for payment of the bill for a general health district. Once a general health district, made up of the villages and townships, combines with a single city health district, it is often referred to as a combined-general health district. In a general health district, the county commissioners are responsible for the payment of utilities unless another arrangement has been made.
The budget commission denied a request to increase appropriations and Dr. Savage resigned, which was tabled by the board of health. He was eventually re-appointed and future appointments would include one member of the board be from Xenia. The budget ran from July 1 to June 30 of the next year with expenses being paid by the county and the City of Xenia. The total budget had grown to just over $19,000 by the beginning of this decade. The board was in discussions to move the health district to the hospital and state legislation was passed for financing health districts through levies. In 1952, the district budget was more than $40,000 and a request was made to the county commissioners, as taxing authority for the district, to place a levy on the ballot. In 1954, a request for a five-year levy went to the budget commission for determination that a need existed for additional funds. The county commissioners must place a levy on the ballot at the request of the board of health. The county auditor can certify funds are available and help determine the amount of millage to be used in a levy request to make up the funding deficit.
The City of Xenia considered setting up its own health district during this time period however, by its city charter, the health commissioner had to be a physician from Xenia and that individual would also serve on the board of health.
The City of Fairborn was approached to merge with the general health district. Contracts were executed between the district advisory council and the cities. There is record of the district advisory council being required to meet annually to appoint members to the board and consider the annual report.
Civil service rules were adopted by the board of health for employment. Most employment decisions came before the board of health including compensation. The health commissioner was appointed as registrar. The health commissioner was also delegated authority to hire employees and suggest members for the board of health. Laws were proposed allowing sanitarians to be employed as health commissioners.
Policies regarding sick leave and vacation were approved by the board of health. Mileage rates and pay outs for leave were approved. The board discussed base salary and merit increases. In April 1958, the board of health adopted a residency provision for all health district employees to be effective within 90 days and all positions would be full time. The board members voiced support for employees wishing to further their education. Student nurses were brought to the health district and the schools paid for the health district to accept the students.
In environmental health, the decade began with discussion regarding the proper disposal of garbage and waste in Xenia and Fairborn and residential lot sizes when sanitary sewers are not available. Sewage rules for septic tanks, septage haulers, landfills and privies were passed. Many homes were ordered to hook to sanitary sewer if available. Complaints were received from the community regarding effluent that had discharged onto the ground. By the middle of the 1950s, municipalities were requested to establish landfills to address open dumping and increased numbers in population. Nuisance abatement was largely the responsibility of the townships upon orders of the board of health; and an individual hired by the county commissioners. Orders for abatement came from the board of health and visits to nuisance properties were conducted by board members. Pollution was being reported in little Beavercreek.
Also in the ’50s, camp and trailer park regulations were passed, plumbing code was adopted under building regulations in Xenia, and food service regulations were revised and adopted. The board of health acted to revoke food service licensure for operators who were not in compliance with regulations. Each board member signed a revocation. There were also complaints from the Fairborn community regarding dust from Cemex.
Next time, we’ll visit public health events and activities from the 1960s. Please remember during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, to visit www.gcph.info, along with social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for the most accurate and up to date information. You can also visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox is the public information officer for Greene County Public Health.