Editor’s note: This is Part II of Greene County Public Health’s column regarding public health in the 1970s.
In March 1976, the District Advisory Council (DAC) surged changes to the makeup of the Board of Health citing disparity based on the population and tax base of the jurisdictions. The DAC also needed more information when houses were being condemned in their jurisdictions. Things came to a head when the DAC attempted to assign an oversight committee to the Board of Health to appeal decisions made by the board. The contract being considered would have split the health district into four districts: Xenia, Fairborn, Bellbrook and the rest of the county. The Board of Health stayed in place. In 1978, as Beavercreek was becoming incorporated, they wished to form their own health district. The need to promote health district services citing people were not aware of what the district does and creating statistics by jurisdictions were the topic of many discussions and disagreements. This was the year the “jurisdiction report” was created. A question addressed by the health district was how much money was being contributed by the jurisdictions in relation to the amount of services being provided.
The board consisted of five members. Board presidents served for three-year terms. They passed regulations for school health and were asked to consider adoption of standards for facilities and operators of emergency squad services throughout the county. The City of Xenia and DAC came to agreement that there would be a seven-member board. The board began discussing combining the TB levy with the general health fund levy.
Of the Board of Health, two members were from Xenia, two were from Fairborn and three were from the villages and townships. The name of the district was Greene County General Health District. The board instructed the district to operate funds with no less than a 2 percent deficit between revenue and costs. The board also wanted agenda items to be received the Monday before a board meeting. The BOH was meeting on Saturdays and approving budgets each January. Board meetings were moved to the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m., with a mandatory adjournment of 11 p.m.
Board member orientation was provided by the health commissioner. One board member was also a member of a city council, but later resigned so no conflict of interest existed. In 1970, the Board of Health discussed adding health insurance benefits for employees as soon as money was available. A measure providing health insurance for employees was adopted Aug. 7, 1971. The Board of Health adopted three standing committees including personnel, finance and planning and evaluation. By the end of the decade, the board, through the personnel committee, authorized the health commissioner to be the executive officer to operate the district.
Individual requests from board members were time consuming so the health commissioner asked for a policy to govern the requests. Additionally, one board member attempted to place a hiring freeze into effect which was determined to be an administrative and not a board function. At the time key positions included the chief sanitarian, chief plumbing inspector, nursing director and registrar. Clerks were hired from the joint vocational school.
The health commissioner was appointed as the registrar. By Ohio Revised Code Boards of Health appoint the registrar upon recommendation of the health commissioner and the registrar may appoint a deputy registrar. Affirmative Action policy was adopted. A clinic in Fairborn was operating and discussions on how to fund the clinic were to run a levy. Mental health services were also being supported by health districts until 1973. Dr. Mary Boyd became the medical director and would liaison with the Greene County Medical Society.
In 1978, Greene County Prosecutor Mike DeWine ruled Herbert Shubick was not legally qualified to hold the health commissioner appointment. The DAC pushed for Shubick’ s resignation. Shubick did not hold a master’s degree in public health as required by state law. He did hold a bachelor’s degree in public health. The board made Shubick the health administrator, but his contract ended Jan. 3, 1979. He went on to serve Geauga and Tuscarawas counties as health commissioner.
The board attempted to appoint Dr. Eugene Schmitt as acting health commissioner; however, he was also a board member which was a conflict of interest.
Margaret Parsley wrote a letter of intent applying for federal funds from Hill-Burton in 1971 for a new facility. Only $300,000 were available in the state. A health planning council was formed, and the group decided that the health district should be located next to Greene Memorial so the two agencies could share resources and personnel. Shubick attended a health levy workshop in Columbus held by the Ohio Department of Health. A 0.3 mil, 10-year operating levy passed in November 1973. The board also discussed placing a levy on the ballot for a new facility. Shubick met with the board on June 6, 1972 to discuss plans for a 13,000 square-foot facility to be located at the rear of Greene Memorial Hospital. Discussions in 1972 with the Ohio Department of Health suggested 50 percent of the funding come from the county and 50 percent of the funding come from Hill-Burton funds. Facilities that received Hill-Burton funding were required to provide a “reasonable volume” of free care each year for those residents in the facility’s area who needed care but could not afford to pay. A one-year bond levy was proposed to be placed on the ballot in November 1973 if the application for Hill-Burton funds was approved. The health district facility constructed in 1975 was a steel structure resembling a merry-go-round. Fryman-Kuck builders of Brookville was the general contractor for the 16-sided structure. Around $454,450 in county funds and $419,799 in federal funds were used to construct the facility.
Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox, public information officer for Greene County Public Health, contributed to this column.