Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor
Friday, 09 April 2010 09:19
The Wood County Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday evening to put a 0.5-mill replacement levy on the November ballot. The levy, which would generate an estimated $1.58 million a year, would help maintain public health services in the county.
But while the board is united in its support of the levy, there is clearly dissension in the health department.
During the portion of the meeting set up for public input, a union organizer representing the health department staff tried to make comments to the board.
"We are looking to the board of health for help," said Doug Warren, administrative organizer for the union. "Help in moving the Wood County Health Department in the right direction. Our future is in your hands in a number of ways."
Warren explained that some union members were very "disheartened" by the decision of the board in March to grant raises and promotions to some members of management.
At that point, Warren was interrupted by board member Alice Davis, suggesting that the meeting was not the proper forum for his concerns.
"This is not the place for what you are trying to do," Davis told Warren.
"Without letting me finish, how do you know what I'm going to say?" responded Warren.
The union organizer then continued, questioning the wisdom of the board granting the administration pay raises right after asking municipal and township leaders for additional funding due to hardship funding programs. "That was not the best thought-out plan," Warren said. And now the board has announced its plans to ask the voters to support a levy.
"We feel that these negative actions work directly against a levy campaign," Warren said. "If a levy does not pass, not only do the citizens of Wood County lose outstanding services but we are the ones who will be out of a job, not management."
Warren started listing specific complaints, such as the delay in hiring three nurses, one home health aide and a health educator.
Board President Dr. Steve Dood stopped Warren at that point, and said the comments were getting into labor-management issues.
"I'm aware there are issues where staff doesn't necessarily agree with the action of the board," Dood said.
Warren then submitted his comments in writing to the board. The other issues addressed in his letter involved the use of levy funds and registrar funds to purchase food for levy planning meetings, and multiple mathematical discrepancies in the warrants for the month.
Dood assured the staff that he would review the concerns, but cautioned that the public portion of the health board meetings are intended for citizen input.
"The usual intent is issues from the general public," Dood said. "Not labor-management issues necessarily."
Before closing Thursday's meeting, Dood assured the health department staff that he was willing to listen to their concerns.
"All lines of communication remain open, 24 hours a day," he said. "I'm willing to listen to anything, anybody."
Also toward the end of the meeting, the only board member to vote against the management pay raises last month questioned the cost of the increases. Dallas Ziegler asked Administrator Bill Ault to calculate the additional costs to the health department per year for the raises. Ziegler also requested that in the future Ault's reports to the board reflect the additional responsibilities he was given and granted a pay raise for last month.
Wood County Health Commissioner Pam Butler said the health board's request to put a levy on the ballot will go before the county commissioners on May 6 at 9:30 a.m.
In other business at Thursday's meeting, Nursing Director Amy Jones reported that the health department has some injectable H1N1 vaccine still available. Dood asked if the health department would be able to conduct another mass clinic if needed.
"We can do it again, if we have to," Jones said.
Jones also reported that some neighboring counties are seeing small outbreaks of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Information was sent out to Wood County physicians and the hospital staff to make them aware. So far, two people have been tested in Wood County, but neither had pertussis, she said.
Environmental Director Brad Espen announced that the health department again has mosquito dunks and larvacide for the public to use. The dunks are available at the following locations: Wood County Health Department, Lake Township Trustees building, Grand Rapids village building, North Baltimore Village Hall, Pemberville Village Hall, Millbury Village Hall, Northwood Municipal Building, Weston Village Hall, Perrysburg Township Building, City of Perrysburg Street Division, Risingsun Village Hall, and Bradner village garage.
Also at the meeting, when questioned by the board about the six critical and eight non-critical violations in the food service inspection at Eastwood Junior High, Jerry Bingham, environmental supervisor, explained that the food operation had several issues with poor date marking.