Sunday, September 5, 2010

August Health Department Board Meetiing

Report on the Riley County-Manhattan
Board of Health Meeting
August 24, 2010

As a means for highlighting the many programs and services offered by the Health Department, presentations at the regular board meetings, as time and need allows, will be made. This month Tara Gregory from the Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research reviewed their evaluation of the Health Department’s Early Childhood Block Grant. This was the second year (of a three year contract) for their external evaluation using written surveys, online surveys, and telephone surveys with varying success in return rates. Phone conversations were most revealing but required repeated attempts and evening timing in order to reach consumers. The evaluation is most helpful in pointing out where increased effort is needed. For example, they discovered that the majority of the users were not aware of the proper method of placing infants down to sleep which can sometimes result in suffocation of the infant. Increased education on points such as this will be provided in the future. Questions from the board followed leading to a healthy discussion and increased awareness by the members of the board of the functions of the programs in the Health Department.
Presentation of the needed budget changes by Charles Murphy, Administrator, noted the number of cuts during the last two years from the State and other funding. An example of this is the cuts to the “Chronic Disease Risk Reduction“ program because of the No Smoking ordinance passed here. According to Charles Murphy, the state is still focussed on tobacco, while the Health Department would like them to broaden their focus and move on to other issues such as childhood obesity and increasing good nutrition which have been recognized as national goals. The board passed the needed changes in the budget as presented. In dealing with the flat funding as well as the cuts in funding the Department will be working to combine some of the grants which have slightly different emphases but deal with the same age children.
Charles Murphy presented the bids for replacing a vehicle, replacing telephone system, 13 HVAC for the old Wharton Manor building now being used by the Health Department and 10 HVAC for the Health Department itself, replacing 18 computers, replacement of the West parking lot. and the cost of the web site construction coming to a total of $249,000. Discussion followed especially questioning the great difference in bid amounts but the decision was made to accept the lowest bid for the HVAC’s after an assessment of it by the county engineer. The Board voted to table the parking lot replacement until further information could be acquired as to other city improvement projects in the vicinity of the Health Department in the planning stages.
The committee, Dr. Paul Benne, Doug Finney, and Dr. Matt Floersch reported on their meeting with the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation commitee with positive belief that the relationship would be fruitful. The Foundation focus is on improving public health through promoting citizens improved diet and exercise. Susanne Kufahl, Assistant Administrator, stated the impetus as similar with the “Live Well Lawrence” program.
The last item on the agenda, requested by Loren Peppered, concerned a form of evaluation designated as “360” evaluation. A committee was formed to further study the suggestion for presentation at another meeting.

Sue Cohen, Observer

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