Public health was groovin’ along in the 1960s


By Melissa Howell and Laurie Fox



Fox

Fox


Howell


The sixties … what a groovy time for public health! Here is a brief synopsis of the activities, hurdles and successes of Greene County Public Health from 1960-1969.

An attorney general opinion at the time stated cities could not purchase professional liability for health district physicians and nurses.

Board meetings were held in Greene Memorial Hospital, however, the hospital was expanding and exam rooms for the health department were challenging to come by. The board was made up of five individuals. Each month, minutes were read, and bills were approved to be paid. The board considered dress code, requiring employees to dress in professional attire. The board considered closing the health district on Saturdays and imposed disciplinary actions for employees who failed to abide by policies. The board also considered measures to withhold pay from employees who refused to record their time. They required medical certification for sick leave. Actions included taking clinics away from nurses, denying salary increases, requiring resignation, withholding paychecks, and reduction in salary. The board paid to send the health commissioner to San Francisco to attend the American Public Health Association.

The board executed an agreement with the University of Cincinnati allowing students at the health district to advance their education. Funding for the students came from federal sources. By 1960, the health district space at Greene Memorial was cramped and overcrowded. Employees were working without air conditioning. Hours of operation included Saturdays. Plans to build a new facility for the health district were discussed in 1966. The total budget in 1960 was $114,365.05 and by 1966 the estimated budget was $258,199 through expanded clinical services. By 1965, employee appointments, terminations, and resignations were read and accepted by the board, employee physicals were required, and an employee class plan and employee classifications were put into place. Physicians working in the clinics made $5 per hour.

The health commissioner, Dr. Savage, retired in 1963 and was succeeded by Dr. Mary Agna. Agna established home care services once Medicare legislation passed. Support for home care services was challenging. The board provided home nursing, homemaker, and home health aide services under SCOPE. In 1964, the board considered placing funding for the homecare program on the ballot, however, funding was sought from the Community Chest. Another program to fight alcoholism was established in 1962. Over time it became a shared responsibility. Employees consisted of occupational, respiratory, physical, and speech therapists.

Requests of additional levies of .2 and .3 mills were made to the county commissioners for the November 1968 ballot. Levy committee funds were to be placed in a separate account. In September 1968, the district began to microfilm vital statistical records. More discussion was held about a new facility in 1968 and on Feb. 1, 1969, Herman Menapace, administrator of Greene Memorial Hospital, described the planning efforts being undertaken to improve all health facilities including healthcare, public health, and mental health. By July 1969, a complete feasibility study had been completed.

Effective Dec. 13, 1967, employees in general health districts became civil service employees. In 1951, there were only 10 employees, but by 1969 there were 47. The board requested the health commissioner serve as the clinician for the monthly Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairborn since no local physician services were available. Office hours on Saturdays were discontinued in 1969, however, nurses were placed on call. The board held that retirement was at age 65 and that employees could re-apply for their jobs annually.

Sewage and wastewater were being discharged into ditches and unsanitary privies. Refuse and garbage were threatening private water supplies. Small lot sizes made it impossible to install sanitary water supplies and sewage disposal systems in the Wright View Heights (Bath Township). The board considered declaring the sections a public health nuisance. The board acted to require registration of sewage installers. One sewage hauler was investigated for dumping contents pumped from tanks onto the ground. Water, wells, sewage, housing, rabies, swimming pool, and plumbing regulations were reviewed and approved. In August 1963, the county planning coordinator met with the board of health describing the benefit of having health districts work with the county to zone land for residential development.

While developing Shawnee Hills, the health district recommended there be a collection system and community sewage plant for the plat, however, attorneys proposed the property owner’s association police conditions for failure of septic tanks. Notably in 1966, properties were bought and sold prior to approval of septic systems prompting Agna to seek an injunction which was approved. The county commissioners attended a board of health meeting and together a “Fix Up, Paint Up, Clean Up” campaign was launched.

In June 1966, the Department of Agriculture took over licensing of milk processing plants.

The board approved travel expenses for transporting the heads of animals who had bitten someone to the Ohio Department of Health lab. Accumulation of manure at horse stables was ordered to be abated. Landfill discussion involved separating yard waste from metal and other solid waste. The board named a chief plumbing inspector and assumed responsibility for commercial plumbing. Schools were found to have unsanitary utensils and unsanitary conditions.

Bob Evans operated within the county under an agreement with the health district. The agreement allowed for a veterinarian to be hired by the health district to inspect slaughterhouse and processing operations. Food regulations in place in 1963 required food handlers to have a chest x-ray demonstrating no active communicable disease. Once the employee was considered disease free, they would receive a food card permitting them to work.

In 1961, a .22 mil levy for tuberculosis was passed, however it was not placed on the ballot again. The immunization clinic operated in Xenia and in Fairborn.

The board of health approved a mass community measles immunization program that was sponsored in part by the Greene County Medical Society and other voluntary health agencies. Training for vision and hearing technicians in the schools was instituted. Family planning services were discussed.

The health commissioner developed procedures to follow to coordinate with the building department and sanitary engineering.

In June, we’ll visit public health events and activities from the 1970s. During this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, follow our website at www.gcph.info, along with our 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.

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Howell
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By Melissa Howell and Laurie Fox

Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox is the public information officer for Greene County Public Health.

Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox is the public information officer for Greene County Public Health.