Jefferson County Health Department looks to expand programs
by Dennis Sharkey
A free health clinic conducted by the Jefferson County Health Department is moving and expanding.
The Lakeside Village Health Clinic has been serving uninsured clients on the last Wednesday of the month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Lakeside Village main office.
The clinic was first started with grant dollars and continues to be funded with grant dollars but the program has grown so much that it has prompted the health department to move the clinic to the Health Department offices in Oskaloosa.
In the last three months the clinic has served 50 clients. Since October of last year the clinic has served 83 patients with 63 being unduplicated clients.
Health Department Director Beth Brown said the clinic is outgrowing its space and that clients can be served more efficiently at the clinic.
Brown said the health fund sponsor that funds the program has approved the plan.
The breakdown for the clinic use is as follows: Lakeside Village, 17 percent; McLouth, 24 percent; Meriden, eight percent; Perry, 13 percent; Ozawkie, 11 percent; Valley Falls, 10 percent; Oskaloosa, 11 percent; Winchester, 15 percent and Grantville with one percent.
Jefferson County Services organizations will provide transportation to clients for appointments.
The clinic will continue at Lakeside Village through December and the change will occur in January.
Brown said her department is still searching for more funding mechanisms for the program.
With some savings in efficiency, Brown hopes to expand the clinic to two days per month.
Brown said she will also be speaking with county school superintendents about expanding a program already under way in Oskaloosa.
The Back Snack program loads up backpacks full of food for low income students to take home on the weekends. The students return the bags and they are cleaned by volunteers before refilling.
To qualify for the program a student must qualify for free or reduced lunches. The program is sponsored by Harvesters.
The program began in Oskaloosa because of the high numbers of free and reduced lunch students. Currently there are 40 students in the program with the hopes of expanding to 90 students by the end of the year.
Students are put on a waiting list until funding becomes available. The program started in Oskaloosa because 63 percent of students qualify.
Other schools rank as follows: Jefferson County North, 38 percent; Jefferson West, 34 percent; McLouth, 43 percent; Valley Falls, 48 percent and in Lecompton there are 42 percent while 35 percent of middle school students in Perry qualify.
• Brown thanked the community for the support the Taste of Elegance dinner and auction received. The event raised more than $52,000 for Friends of Jefferson County Hospice.
Brown said the county’s hospice program continues to grow. Currently there are 14 patients beings served. The department has seen a 15 percent growth rate in the program in the last three years.
• Lift station No. 7 had to replace a pump for about $8,000. Brown said the work was done at significant costs. Sewer District No. 8 will pay for some of the costs.
• November is national diabetes awareness month and Jefferson County Diabetes Coalition was recently recognized by a national publication for its efforts. The National Association of City and County Health officials recognized the coalition for building the program up from nothing in just a year.
The coalition sponsors an informmational meeting every third Monday of the month at the Health Department. The meetings are open to the public and free. The meetings feature professional speakers who can help families and patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
• Auxiliary Director Mark Richards requested to begin a search for a replacement for a retiring employee. Commissioners requested to see costs analysis on contracting the work.
• Road and Bridge Director Francis Hubbard met with commissioners about the 118th Street bridge and presented a cost estimate for a concrete slab replacement.
• Commissioners gave Hubbard approval to purchase a crack sealer for county hard top roads. Hubbard said he could purchase a slightly used unit for about $8,500.
• Commissioners urged Hubbard to work with the GIS department to develop an information system that could inventory information that could be used to work more efficiently.
• New Planning and Zoning Director Bill Noll met with commissioners to seek an opinion on some policies.
Noll said one county resident requested that building permit fees be waived for homes that had a total loss due to fire. Currently the county only waives the fees for loss due to a tornado. Chairman Richard Malm said he would not be opposed.
Noll also sought clarification on cell phone tower permits. He asked commissioners if they wanted the conditional use permit process used when the towers are sold to another service provider.
Commissioners agreed that when a permit is issued it should be for the land use and not the landowner.
• Commissioners also approved an agriculture lot split.
• Commissioners met in closed session with Noll and GIS/IT Director Chris Schmeissner in separate meetings.
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