Health Board OKs $1.39M Budget

WHEELING — The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health on Tuesday approved a $1.39 million budget for 2019-20 operations of the health department; the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program and the Threat Preparedness program.

The annual budget lists $618,161 in expenses for the health department. Projected funding for the department includes $262,625 in state aid; a $4,000 state aid carryover; $67,000 from the Ohio County Commission; $67,000 from the city of Wheeling and $6,000 from the Ohio County Board of Education.

Administrator Howard Gamble said state aid is increasing by $29,000 for the coming year, but that figure “is nowhere near the amount removed (by the state) several years ago.”

The budget includes a 1.5 percent salary increase for staff of the health department. Gamble said the additional state aid made it possible to give pay raises to employees.

Other sources of revenue for the health department include environmental and clinical fees; clinical reimbursements; special funding and grants; an immunization grant and contracts with health departments in Hancock and Brooke counties.

The regional WIC program is set to receive $706,484 in revenue through its federal contract. Revenue of $64,349 is projected from a state contract for the Threat Preparedness program.

Board chair Dr. John Holloway and board members Laura Wakim Chapman, Elisabeth Slater and Thomas Tuttle voted for the budget. Member Chad Thalman was absent.

In other action, the board reaffirmed its decision to award a contract to La Boit Specialty Vehicles of Gahanna, Ohio, for a mobile medical unit to be used primarily by the Project HOPE homeless outreach program. Gamble said the unit’s total cost is $186,000, with $100,000 to be paid with a gift from New Life United Methodist Church and the remainder covered by Project HOPE funds, departmental sources and other grants.

Also during its annual meeting, the board reappointed Holloway as chair and named Thalman as vice chair.

Gamble said the Ohio County Commission has not made an appointment to fill a vacant spot on the health board. He said the commission was notified of the vacancy by letter in April and reminded in a recent email.

According to the board’s required composition, county commissioners may name a Republican, Independent or Mountain Party member, from any magisterial district, to fill the unexpired term of Terry Sterling, who resigned.

Meanwhile, the board issued its annual recommendation that health care workers receive flu shots. The board passed a measure to recommend, but not mandate, that health care facilities in the county require workers to be immunized against influenza by Nov. 1.

Julie Carey, the health department’s summer intern, demonstrated three different types of traps used to capture mosquitoes to test for malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus. She said the mosquito samples are sent to the state health department for testing, beginning this week.

Carey, who is a West Virginia University senior majoring in public health, showed a battery-powered trap that uses a pheromone to lure mosquitoes. Another battery-operated unit utilizes a mixture of substances, including horse manure, to appeal to the insects. A trap filled with dry ice attracts the bugs by producing carbon dioxide to mimic a mammal’s breathing, she said.

With a grant from Youth Services System, the health department recently spent $19,363 to purchase naloxone, sold under the brand name of Narcan, and atomizers to distribute to agencies throughout the region, Gamble said.

In other health issues, Gamble said a new report shows 2,500 cases of hepatitis A and 23 deaths from the infection statewide. “Brooke and Ohio counties do not have cases linked to this (outbreak) yet,” he added.

Another report lists 1,100 cases of measles nationwide as of July 1, but West Virginia and Ohio have no cases, the administrator said.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health’s next meeting is set for noon Sept. 10 at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.

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