A hire from inside the department was one of the points of discussion at the Franklin County Health Board meeting July 19.

Head nurse Deb Tibbetts has taken a new position elsewhere and fellow county nurse Nanette Beres applied for the advertised open position. The county commissioners and public health officer Dr. David Welsh, after interviewing Beres, have recommended her for the spot. The board unanimously approved her, and that decision will be forwarded to commissioners for final approval. Ads will now be placed for someone to fill Beres' former position.

“Congratulations, Nanette,” said Welsh.

The doc also provided some cursory information about monkeypox, an infectious viral disease originating in west-central Africa. As of July 15, there were 12 confirmed cases in Indiana, confined to the Indianapolis and Gary areas. Cases have been traced to those traveling from Africa or adopting exotic animals from the continent. The World Health Organization recently declared the spread of the disease a “global public health emergency.”

Welsh explained it's in the same family as smallpox or cowpox, so people with those vaccinations would be better prepared to fight it. Like smallpox, this becomes contagious when a person has open sores, in which case one must quarantine for up to three weeks. If one feels they've been exposed, getting a vaccine within four days greatly reduces the chance of contraction. Regular cleaning and laundering do the trick as it can spread on surfaces, linens, etc. Residents should contact FCHD if they have concerns.

Dr. Welsh also serves on the Governor's Public Health Commission, which is set to release its final report to Gov. Holcomb next month. It's divided into six categories; some ideas will require legislative action while others could be instituted via executive order, and several require proper funding.

Welsh said the main concern was keeping resources at the local level, especially with rural counties operating with a smaller tax base. Also, a state committee was recommended to oversee data sent in by Indiana's 92 counties.

The sanitarians' reports included environmental health specialist Curt Cox continuing to take sewage-related complaints from residents of Lakeshore Resort Property off Causeway Road.

Board president Joe Meier summed up the problem. Some Lakeshore residents live at the campground year-round and do not have viable sewer systems, so many use holding/pumping tanks that overflow throughout the year. The tanks are technically not up to Indiana code. Cox dealt with one specific complaint where greywater (sewage) was collecting beneath a trailer. For another complaint elsewhere in the county, the specialist asked the area plan office to assist as it went beyond septic issues.

Sanitarian David Fehlinger inspected 43 retail food establishments in the county in the second quarter, including eight temporary sites (fair and festivals) and a pre-operational inspection. He was also asked to inspect three swimming pools – Brookville Town Aquatic Center, Lakeshore and Fox Run Campground.

Fehlinger also said there's some liberties being taken with patrons bringing in non-service animals to grocery stores and restaurants within the county. Owners should manage their situations, but the sanitarian admitted the health code ordinance is vague on this topic. 

Local health coordinator Michael Falk gave his report remotely. All deliverables and expenditures from the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant in Budget Period 3 have been submitted to the District 9 health coordinator. 

Eugena Monroe from the auditor's office attended to notify the board the PHEP grant that helps fund Falk's salary is up for renewal, meaning his annual contract expired June 30. The state must sign off on his contract prior to approval by department attorney Eugene Stewart. The board unanimously moved to approve the contract pending attorney approval; that recommendation would then be sent to commissioners to approve.

In other news
From Welsh, COVID cases are rising in surrounding counties; St. Elizabeth in Lawrenceburg has reported more hospitalizations whereas Margaret Mary Health has reported fewer. As it's tick season, Welsh said bites can lead to staph infection so if infected area is getting tender, have it checked out. He also reminded adults to check their tetanus status.

Beres provided the nurses' report. A Naloxone (Narcan) grant has been obtained from the state. There was one lead test done on a small child from a state referral, with the level being reduced. Six animal bites were reported. FCHD has committed to participating in many initiatives designed to curtail underage alcohol use in the county; the department is also a Preferred Provider for the “Quit Now” Referral Network through the Indiana Tobacco Quitline.

The department gave out home COVID tests at the 4-H Fair, also offering smartphone scans linked to the FCHD website. Beres believed this had to do with 32 people coming in to get tested July 19. FCHD received two new replacement Automated external defibrillators. The nurse has attended several educational workshops and webinars and penned articles for the public. Training continues on Basic Life Support and Stop the Bleed. 

Secretary/registrar Lisa Meier attended Mental Health First Aid training with Beres. She added the new vaccine refrigerator is running and will be regularly calibrated. 

Grant manager Connie Kuehn worked with the staff on the 2023 budget, which once agreed upon was submitted to the auditor's office. She also sat in on the Red Cross Mass Casualty webinar with Beres.