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Health Department releases 2009 report

Last year was a trying 12 months for the Harrison County Health Department, both physically and emotionally.
Health coordinator Tony Combs presented the department’s annual report, detailing operations and activities, at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting May 3.
The nursing division of the department endured the fight against the H1N1 Influenza pandemic. Thousands of flu shots were given during multiple clinics throughout the fall and winter, and several clinics were held at each county school to vaccinate children and all medical and essential personnel, Combs said. He said the largest drive-through clinic ever held in the county took place in December for H1N1 vaccinations.
The county’s long-time health officer, Dr. Rashidul Islam, passed away in July.
‘(The death) came as a sudden and unexpected shock to the community,’ Combs said. ‘Dr. Islam was well-loved and will be sorely missed by many people. He died peacefully doing what he loved by helping his patients and the citizens of Harrison County.’
Dr. George Estill, health board chairman, became the interim health officer until the commissioners confirmed Dr. Andrew Morton to the position in December.
Combs said an annual report of the department has to be completed and turned into the state health organization.
‘A lot of people don’t realize half of the services we provide,’ he said. ‘So, it’s a good way to get that out.’
The health department has approximately 25 visitors per day, and the Maternal and Child Health clinic receives 15 patients or visitors daily.
The nursing division provides senior citizen screenings, home health visits, tuberculosis tests, communicable disease counseling, public health information, head lice treatment, colposcopy, biopsy and mammogram screening for at-risk populations, and adult and child vaccine and immunization. Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 shots to adults and children are given per year, not including the additional 5,700 administered for the H1N1 virus last year.
The environmental division provides oversight of all private septic systems, including consultations for site selection and system design, contractor supervision during installation and final permitting. It works closely with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on trash and dump site cleanup. Mold, lead and other health hazards are mitigated. Restaurants are inspected and graded on state health code, pools and public swimming facilities are inspected and monitored for bacteria, animal bites are investigated, dead birds and other vector are tested for diseases and mosquitos are monitored and tested for West Nile Virus. The division issues more than 150 septic permits and periodically inspects the approximately 150 restaurants and food providers in the county annually.
The vital records division records all county births and deaths. Birth and death certificates are provided to the public and other pertinent agencies.
The MCH division provides prenatal, family planning and women’s health care to under-insured or non-insured women. Services provided include physical exams, blood work, vision, hearing and dental screenings, STD screening, pregnancy testing, PAP tests and breast exams.
The preparedness division provides planning and response to health emergencies. It works closely with the Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Management Services and local fire departments to provide assistance in the event of any threat to the public’s health. Plans are in place to assess the situation and provide command and/or administrative assistance. If the situation warrants, four health department employees are trained to the level of HAZMAT Operations to assist with on-scene operations. Ultimately, a mass clinic can be created to administer vaccine medication to the entire population of the county in the event of a bioterrorism attack or naturally occurring outbreak.
The department will see more changes this year, as it plans to move into a permanent office space at the old hospital campus in one of the former medical office buildings.
The health department moved from its location in the old hospital off Atwood Street across the street to what is known as the ‘Rothrock’ house in 2008. The temporary facility will continue to house the department until the county completes the renovation and remodeling project at the old hospital, slated to be done in October.