Editor’s note: This is Part I of this month’s Centennial Celebration series, sharing the activities, hurdles and successes of Greene County Public Health from 1980 to 1989.
In 1980 the present-day Department of Health and Human Services was organized from the previous Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In Ohio, a statewide association for local boards of health was under development. There needed to be stronger local boards in advising on public health issues to the state.
Health Commissioner McCullough advised members of the district advisory council: “If you don’t see fit to sell a levy, you’re really going against yourselves. I know you’re pinched for money too, but we need to be high on your priority list. You pay for police and fire protection and you should start paying for health protection. We are supplying the services for you that you are required to have by law.”
Levy expenses were estimated at $1,300. In November 1982, the levy failed. A member of the levy committee felt that the levy failed because members of the board of health did not actively promote the levy in their jurisdictions. Today, members of the board of health attend meetings with the jurisdictions to discuss the levy at council meetings.
In 1982, discussions for revising the contract for union between the cities, villages and townships began. The contract exists between the district advisory council (made up of the villages and townships) and the cities to accomplish health district programs and services. Township trustees wanted to have a better idea of what the health district provided and wanted assurances that they were not subsidizing urban areas. It was around this time (1980) that Beavercreek became a city. Their expectation was to have two members appointed to the board of health but felt the size of the board was “unwieldy.” In Sugarcreek Township, the health district had the reputation of being the worst people to deal with and people felt the agency lacked ethics. The county auditor stressed to the townships the need to support the levy to keep funding from coming out of their own budgets. Discussions also were held regarding having multiple levies on the ballot with other agencies at the same time.
During this decade, board of health members would provide notice to the president of the board of health and the district advisory council when they retired from the board. The board also requested to be part of a county request to have employee contributions made to the Ohio Public Employee’s Retirement fund “picked up” by the employer. Board meetings were videotaped and played on cable television. Xenia High School lent the equipment to conduct the videotaping. The board was surveyed to determine what they wanted in the monthly reports received from the district. Program updates provided information to the planning and evaluation committee.
Grants for child and family health services, newborn home visiting, dental and health education were established. An adult immunization program was added. An outside contractor was used to write for grants. McCullough served on the regional commission for newborn home visiting and minority health. He also sought electronic monitoring for the facility that would alarm the county sheriff or Xenia police if an incident occurred. Sonitrol was selected as the provider of the security system.
McCullough recruited physicians for the medical director position. The board revised the evaluation tool for the health commissioner. The health commissioner provided the Institute of Medicine report to the board regarding the future of public health. Again, employees were calling board members directly rather than following established procedures. Sensophones were installed to monitor vaccine temperatures and notify employees if refrigerators were out of temperature control.
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.