MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Health District Advisory Council held its 2019 annual meeting Tuesday in Mount Vernon’s Memorial Building, electing officers. Health Commissioner Julie Miller offered the 2018 Annual Report for the Knox County Health Department. Environmental Health Director Nate Overholt also provided a report involving efforts to recognize and reduce the impact of dangerous animals such as the Blacklegged Deer Tick.
During DAC’s election of officers, Knox County Commissioner Thom Collier was re-elected chairman of the council, with Centerburg Mayor Dave Becker re-elected as secretary. Ron Moder received re-appointment to the Knox County Board of Health for a full term ending in March 2024.
Miller then offered the Health Department’s 2018 Annual Report, offering that achieving National Public Health Accreditation was the biggest accomplishment the department experienced last year. Though Public Health Accreditation is voluntary nationwide, the state Legislature in 2013 required accreditation for all health departments by 2020. She added that the Knox County Health Department, with 64 distinct programs including a Community Health Center, is one of only 25 public health departments in Ohio to achieve National Public Health Accreditation. Nationally, Knox County is one of just 235 local health departments to be accredited out of more than 3,000.
“For the past five years, your health department board and staff worked rigorously to achieve accreditation standards that provide a framework to identify performance improvement opportunities, develop leadership, improve management, increase funding opportunities, and strengthen relationships with all of our stakeholders — community residents, community partners and elected officials,” Miller said. Accreditation involved submitting more than 700 documents with 6,000 hours spent on policies and processes as well as a “stringent site visit by federal public health professionals.”
“Accreditation means we are now recognized for the exceptional public health department we have worked hard to become,” Miller said. It means improvement of health department programs is now definable and measurable as strengths and weaknesses are identified. It also provides opportunity for greater accountability and transparency through improved leadership and management processes.
The Community Health Center, part of the Health Department located at 11660 Upper Gilchrist Road, continues to provide an assortment of primary care, dental care, mental health services, addiction counseling, and health testing and screenings. There are three employees providing on-site medical services including two nurse practitioners supervised by a physician. The center now employs three licensed mental health counselors including an alcohol and drug addiction counselor, she said. The center accepts Medicare and Medicaid but also treats those without medical insurance. A dentist works full-time and is expected to be joined soon by another one, Miller said.
She also said the opening of a small health center in Danville has been a big achievement and though the center’s hours are inconsistent at present, that will change as more funding is identified. The federal government maps out “hotspots” where public health services are greatly needed due to time and distance to travel outside of an area for medical care. Danville has six such hotspots, she noted.
A 2018 Annual Report was also offered by Environmental Health Director Nate Overholt. There was one positive rabies case last year, involving a bat, which occurred in the Fredericktown area. There were also:
•Six cases of lyme disease last year between May and December caused by the Black-legged Deer tick.
•One case of Rocky Mountain Spotted fever caused by the American dog tick.
•Two cases of LaCrosse Virus Disease from August to September, caused by the Eastern Tree Hole mosquito, known as a “daytime biter,” Overholt said. Both children were treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.