Monday, August 2, 2010

Manhattan - Riley County Board of Health

Report on the Riley County-Manhattan
Board of Health Meeting
July 28, 2010

Since the June Board meeting was canceled because so many Board members were unable to attend the agenda for the meeting was a full one. Dan Unruh, K-State student body president, was introduced as substituting for Lauren Palmer, who represents the city staff on the board . Mr. Unruh explained that for a number of years the K-State student body president is offered a summer internship with the city.
Charles Murphy, Health Department Administrator, announced that the University of Kansas School of Medicine is starting a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Department and that, through the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, the Manhattan-Riley County Health Department will be providing “hands on” experience for students. The Department welcomes this initiative and looks forward to working with the Medical School.
Mr. Murphy noted that the Department’s annual contracts are still down $256,563 and thus will necessitate a budget modification presentation at the August Board meeting. Funding continues to be a critical issue with some political overtones as to the amounts the County and the City provides to the Health Department and in what form. Because many of the grants received by the Health Department require matching funds which indicate support from the elected boards, Susanne Kufahl , Assistant Department Administrator, stressed that it is very important to have clarity on this issue. i.e. that the Health Department is supported by the elected officials.
The Health Department went to the trouble to bill insurance companies where appropriate for the HINI vaccinations and therefore still have HINI funds available.
Mr. Murphy would like to consider using this ”one time money” to replace very outdated and “energy using” HVAC equipment. Some of the equipment is leaking and the Health Department’s building North (the former nursing home) also has aging and inefficient furnaces. After some discussion the Board voted to have Mr. Murphy ask for bids and the Board will then consider funding at the next meeting. Dr. Benne asked about the number of vaccinations given which Mr. Murphy indicated was 20,000. Mr. Murphy noted that there has been reported in California a large outbreak of whooping cough which if widely spread could require action by the Health Department. Discussion followed and Dawn Searles, Clinical Nursing Supervisor. indicated plans for inclusion of education about adult vaccination and booster needs were being considered as part of the next Health Fair and to increase provision of such information to adults generally.
Mr. Murphy inquired as to the Board’s wishes concerning the Executive’s yearly evaluation since he is planning to retire December 31, 2010. After discussion the Board indicated it wished to do the evaluation as usual as it may be helpful in a transition year. The Board voted to do the evaluation “in house” and to include a request for comments from the staff but without a specific questionnaire.
Susanne Kufahl, Assistant Administrator, asked that the Board respond to a request from the Manhattan Community Foundation who are considering an endowment to ”sustain public health”. Ms. Kufahl is a member of the Foundation and feels this is an important issue but one that will require an immediate response before the next Board meeting. The Board agreed and a subcommittee of members will meet with the members of the Foundation.
The Board’s request to the city attorney as whether the no-smoking ordinance could include banning of electronic cigarettes was answered by Mr. Frost in the negative and the Board’s request for similar clarification of the state’s smoking ban from the State Attorney General’s office received an outright refusal to consider the question as not in their jurisdiction. The board still considers the electronic cigarette as a hazardous smoking device and feels that it should be included in the ordinance The Board packet contained an account of the FDA’s warning of the health risks posed by the electronic cigarette. Among these is the concern that the e-cigarette will increase nicotine addiction, especially among the young, and that the inhalants contain toxic and carcinogenic products. The electronic cigarette is sold on the internet and is marketed to the young. Dr. Paul Benne noted that several other states are looking at banning the device. The Board discussion left little doubt that the Department should pursue this issue further but did not decide on a path to follow. One suggestion was to contact the group “Clean Air Manhattan” and to possibly work with them.

Submitted by Sue Cohen, Observer

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