GCPH report shows efforts in high-need areas


By Anna Bolton - abolton@aimmediamidwest.com



XENIA — Greene County Public Health’s milestones in 2018 include achieving national accreditation, completing construction of a new facility and working with organizations to address substance use in the community.

GCPH released its annual report March 25, which highlights the agency’s ongoing efforts and health statistics.

Big changes

The health department moved next-door to its new 28,500 square foot two-story building Aug. 20, 2018. A $6 million bond from the Greene County Port Authority funded the $7.8 million project.

Additionally, after a several year-long process, GCPH earned accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Nov. 20, 2018. The recognition means GCPH meets or exceeds PHAB standards and is committed to continuous quality improvement for its community.

“When you see the symbol of public health accreditation you will know that an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization has closely examined our facility, procedures, plans and reports. It means we, as an organization, strive for the highest level of service and performance possible,” Health Commissioner Melissa Howell said. “All Greene County Public Health employees have worked diligently to make this a reality. Our employees are dedicated professionals who seek to make a difference in our communities every day.”

The year 2018 also marked the start of implementing the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), focusing on chronic disease, mental health and substance abuse, maternal and child health, and injury prevention.

County births, deaths

The provisional count of Greene County residents who gave birth in 2018 is 1,709, which is the lowest count in the last seven years. This compares to 1,726 births in 2017. The year with the highest number of births in the last seven years was 2015 with 1,885.

The top three leading causes of death in 2018 in Greene County were cancer (265), heart disease (253) and accidents (63). The leading causes were the same in 2017, with higher numbers at 317 cancer deaths, 313 heart disease deaths and 109 accidental deaths.

Making strives in high-need areas

GCPH addressed needs this year in the areas of chronic disease and injury prevention; communicable diseases control; maternal, child and family health; and environmental public health.

The Community Roots Coalition planted a raised bed community garden in April 2018 in Xenia’s Lexington Park to help address food insecurity. Educational workshops were held at the garden, and local families took home produce that grew there.

SafeTrade, a one-for-one needle exchange program, celebrated one year of operation. The program helps decrease the spread of disease and cleans up used syringes from the community. SafeTrade served 42 clients and exchanged 2,440 syringes. The program also now distributes Narcan kits and fentanyl test strips to reduce overdoses.

GCPH staff also continued offering HIV/AIDS education, counseling, testing and prevention services. HIV testing was done for 411 county residents, while 256 participated in prevention education and 5,600 received information.

The agency also focused on addressing nicotine addiction and increased numbers of young people vaping, making more than 150 referrals and visiting local schools.

Greene County had its first case of hepatitis A, a vaccine-preventable liver disease, in May 2018. Number of cases, all hospitalized, was 23 for the year. This compares to the zero to seven cases annualy in the past 10 years. GCPH nurses vaccinated 300 high-risk persons from November 2018 to February 2019.

GCPH also provided 37 pack ‘n play units to mothers through the Cribs for Kids program. Eight to 10 mothers and their partners each month also participated in the Baby & Me Tobacco Free program — including sessions with a tobacco cessation specialist — to quit smoking before their baby was born.

The “Test Your Well” event also continued at the Greene County Fairgrounds in September 2018 with more than 120 attendees bringing water samples from their wells. FFA students and their advisors screened the samples for nitrates and iron.

West Nile Virus (WNV) was detected in mosquito samples during the year, but no human cases were reported. Out of 74 pools of mosquitoes tested at the Ohio Department of Health laboratory, five were positive for WNV from Bellbrook, City of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Township, Fairborn and Sugarcreek Township. Four neighborhoods were treated with adulticide. GCPH also placed mosquito larvicide in known breeding areas and wet areas. There were also no reported cases of Zika in 2018.

The 2018 Annual Report to the Community is available at www.gcph.info/about-us/annual-reports.

Looking ahead, GCPH will celebrate 100 years of public health achievement in 2020, introduce the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, and bring a large-scale, free medical operation — GuardCare — to Greene County.

By Anna Bolton

abolton@aimmediamidwest.com