Clarification of programs is needed

Published 6:41 pm Saturday, April 21, 2012

It has come to the attention of the Beaufort County Board of Health that the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners has questioned several aspects of the operation of the Beaufort County Health Department, namely Pregnancy Care Management and Care Coordination for Children. We feel that it is our duty as a board that serves Beaufort County, its residents and its commissioners, to provide clarification on these programs.

Both PCM and CC4C provide benefits for citizens of Beaufort County through Medicaid funding. The state of North Carolina administers funding of these programs through agreements that are signed with each local health department. These agreements dictate how the funding is to be utilized by each local health department. The health director of each local health department signs this agreement in order to receive these funds. Without the signed agreement, no funding is disbursed. These funds have allowed us to add two new positions at BCHD. These two positions will help manage both PCM and CC4C. The salaries for these two positions will be solely paid with funds received from Medicaid for PCM and CC4C. Additional funds were allocated to Beaufort County by Medicaid based on the needs here.

These agreements task our BCHD to administer PCM and CC4C by working with Community Care of North Carolina, medical providers and other providers in our community to help those at most risk. The state believes that these programs, which focus on prevention, save Medicaid dollars in the long run.  According to an independent evaluation by Treo Solution, Inc., an expert health-care analysis firm, CCNC saved the state of North Carolina nearly $1.5 billion in just three years (2007-2009). CCNC’s work was praised by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Harvard University, which recognized CCNC with an Innovations in American Government Award.

Whenever a new program is presented to the Board of Health, its members digest the information and ascertain the answers to the following questions:

  • Does this program improve the health of the citizens of Beaufort County?
  • Is this program fiscally responsible for Beaufort County?

Certainly these programs, with their focus on prevention and access to care, provide a health benefit for our county. Since these programs involve zero dollars of county money, the BOH can emphatically answer that they do not jeopardize the county’s fiscal goals.

There are many other programs and health issues that BCHD is responsible for that you might not be aware of. The following are just a few:

  • Following Hurricane Irene, because of the lack of electricity, all establishments that handled any refrigerated food had to be inspected. Any without generator backup had to dispose of the food. Thus preventing any serious diseases from spoiled food.
  • Mosquito spraying following Hurricane Irene was also the responsibility of BCHD. Mosquitoes were collected in various areas of the county, counted, identified, and those areas that had mosquitoes that could harbor serious disease, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, were sprayed first.
  • Providing vaccinations for the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and post exposure vaccination to people exposed to a rabid animal — thus emphasizing prevention of diseases.
  • A major community health assessment is done every four years. The purpose is to identify health needs. The following is a list of the three most health-related issues that Beaufort County residents believe most affected themselves and those around them: cancer, chronic disease and weight management and obesity. The Beaufort County Health Department’s management team, under the direction of the Health Director Roxanne Holloman and the BOH members, will address the course of action so everything possible is done to combat the problems surrounding these conditions. This report is available on the BCHD website , the library and at the Beaufort County Health Department.

Holloman is in contact with the Board of Health members on a regular basis concerning health department operations and fully informs us of all fiscal matters. We can emphatically state that our county is privileged to have someone with Holloman’s talents, focus and motivation serving as its health director.

The following are upcoming events sponsored by the health department:

  • Dog walk: Walk dogs at the Chocowinity recreation complext between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. today. If you do not have a dog, one may be borrowed from the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility.
  • BCHD will have an open house between 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. April 30 at 1436 Highland Drive, Washington.
  • Facilitated collaboration with other groups in the county to help sponsor free health screenings from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday at First United  Methodist Church on West Second Street. The Farm Bureau’s Healthy Living for a Future will provide the screenings.

Stanley Cohen, DVM, is chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Health.