State level budget cuts hits home

Wanda English Burnett

State budget cuts will impact Ripley County residents who have been getting their Hepatitis A&B vaccines from the county health department.

At the quarterly meeting of the Ripley County Health Department held Tuesday, December 4 nurse Vickie Powell explained that the department will no longer be getting the vaccines for free from the state. “This is unfortunate because we’ve done a lot of these,” noted Powell.

Powell has been advising those who mostly benefit from the shots, fire department members and EMS employees, that they can contact their own physician to order the vaccines and then the county can administer them, but it will cost them to buy the product from the pharmacy.

The school vaccination clinics will continue as usual.

Flu vaccines from the health department for 2011 may cost the consumer. It was noted that unless a recovery fee (which could cost up to $12) is charged, the county health department may have to discontinue providing adult flu vaccines. Those for children ages 6-months to 18 are still available for free.
Pat Thomas said the county paid for 350 doses last year at a cost of $10-$12 each. She explained the health department isn’t allowed to use grant monies for the vaccines. There were 656 flu vaccines administered for the final quarter (October, November, December) of last year.

Powell reported 23 immunization clinics held with 1465 immunizations administered for the final quarter of 2010.

Andy Bryant, environment division of the health department, requested approval from the health board for an onsite sewage disposal system ordinance update.

This ordinance update will mean fluid filters on tanks would be mandatory. Bryant explained this would impact those with new installs or tanks that need to be replaced. The filters will now come on all tanks from the manufacturer due to the new state law that became effective January 1, 2011.

The filters will be an additional cost and will have to be cleaned periodically. Bryant said homeowners can clean them or hire a septic hauler to do it. If the filters are not cleaned, it will cause a serious septic backup inside the home.

Bryant said the new mandate has been coming for years and some counties have already embraced it, such as neighboring Dearborn County.

He advised the board they can’t go less than state code. The board unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance, which will now go before the commissioners for their approval.

A copy of the 43-page ordinance was submitted to the board.

Sherri Schmidt brought the problem of some swimming pool operators not submitting their weekly sample reports. There are 13 public pools in the county required to submit weekly samples to the health department.

According to state code, if the pool operators do not comply it can result in immediate shutdown. When asked who the frequent offenders were, Schmidt noted they are Comfort Inn and Stonebridge Inn, both located in Batesville.

Susann Abdon of the vital records division, told the board the electronic system to record deaths is up and running and going well for the department. She noted the new system is more efficient.

The vital records division is now taking appointments for paternity affidavits and to record home births because the process requires two staff members to be in the office. Charlene Keck noted that recording home births is a lengthy process with more coming in now that the Amish community has expanded in the area.

There were 77 new births recorded in the last three months of 2010 in Ripley County and 70 deaths recorded in the same time period. There were 217 birth certificates issued and 266 death certificates.
Harley Robinson, DVM, president of the health board, presided over the meeting and was elected to continue in that position for 2011. Also to remain as vice-president is Bill Hisrich. David Welsh MD is the health officer for the board. Board members present for the meeting included: Michael Parker, Mary Schmaltz, RN; Jim Hollis, DVM; and Pat Thomas, EHS, PHC health department administrator.

The next regular scheduled health board meeting for the county will take place April 5 at 5 p.m. in the EMA office, Versailles.