Jefferson County School Clinics on Chopping Block

The Jefferson County health department voted to eliminate clinics in three school districts because the department is spending $21,000 more than it is getting from the contracts.

Nicole Balakos, health department commissioner, said there are contracts with Steubenville City, Edison Local and Buckeye Local school districts. The health department brings in $9,000 under the agreements, but spends $30,000, Balakos said.

Dr. Jane Culp, health department medical director, said the job of the health department is to provide education and assistance to the school nurses.

She said the health department-contracted nurse practitioners are providing clinical assistance to sick students who should be seen by a family doctor or an express-care facility.

Culp said she is a hands-on doctor and doesn’t feel comfortable signing off on treatment plans submitted by the nurse practitioners without her first seeing the patient.

Balakos said she has been in touch with the school districts about the issue. She said the department will provide vaccination clinics and other services, but mainly educational assistance to the school nurses.

The Bergholz clinic also is in jeopardy of closing.

Balakos said the health department spends $1,000 a month in utility costs to keep the clinic open but only is seeing about four regular patients, who left the care of their family doctor to attend the clinics.

“We are not seeing the number of patients we expected,” Balakos said.

The board voted to table the issue until the next monthly board meeting.

There will be a health and community resource fair in Bergholz from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Friday at the fire department. There will be food and drinks, games and activities and information on community resources.

The event is sponsored by Family Recovery Center, the county health department, Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board and the Jefferson County United Way.

Marc Maragos, environmental health director, said there were 48 odor complaints in June about the Apex Landfill. There have been 32 complaints so far in July, he said.

Health department representatives made an unannounced evening visit to the landfill in June, in which four violations were observed.

Maragos said the landfill violations include: Ponding of water, not having adequate daily cover, two working operating faces and leachate exposed on one of the slopes.

The landfill has corrected one of the alleged violations, Balakos said.

The landfill has asked for the other three violations to be rescinded, Maragos said.

Maragos said he will be meeting with landfill officials in the near future to explain the health department has been designated as the inspector of the landfill by the state Environmental Protection Agency, and the health department can inspect the facility at any time, day or night.

Maragos said accessibility to the landfill for the June inspection initially was thwarted by landfill workers, saying the facility needed to provide an escort into the working sections.

Maragos said the health department representatives do not need an escort.

Balakos said the health department is working on establishing a relationship with landfills in the county so the facilities know what to expect from the health department.

“We will hold them accountable,” she said.

Frank Klinger, health department accreditation coordinator, gave the board an update on the accreditation process.

Balakos said the state health department is requiring all health departments to be accredited. She said it can be an expensive procedure but the state can withhold funding without accreditation. Balakos urged businesses that want the health department to provide a flu-shot clinic to contact the nursing division to get on the schedule.

Applications were received for an open board position since Balakos has been named health commissioner.

She had been serving as board president. The district advisory council, made up of representatives from throughout the county, will meet to make a selection of the new board member.

Balakos said a ribbon cutting and open house will be held after the Sept. 17 health board meeting to recognize the department’s move to the sixth floor of the Towers, 500 Market St.

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