Editor’s note: This is Part I of the Greene County Public Health column focusing on the 1970s. Part II will run next week.
Here is a brief synopsis of the activities, hurdles and successes of Greene County Public Health, 1970-1979.
External forces impacted the district. The energy crisis kept the district from holding clinics in local churches due to cold temperatures. In the 1970s, there were 162 health districts in Ohio. Greene County ranked 12th in health outcomes and per capita expenditures were $10.74. Inside millage was $110,763.64. In May of 1976, the budget commission acted to reduce the health district budget by $13,330. The total proposed budget was $1,051,486. The amount was reinstated.
Dr. Mary Agna resigned in April 1970 when she moved to Cincinnati. Due to the long period of not having a health commissioner, in September 1971, the board proposed an agreement to Dr. Agna as a part-time health commissioner with specific requirements of eight hours per week, attendance at board and evening meetings, and to be a liaison with the medical society. She was not able to accept the proposal. At the same time, W. P. McCullough submitted his application.
An agreement was reached with Montgomery County’s health district to contract with Dr. Vogel through December 1972 to find a suitable health commissioner. Herbert Shubick became the administrator in December 1971. On September 8, 1973 Mr. Shubick became health commissioner following a ruling by the county prosecutor. Mr Shubick had an undergraduate degree in public health and an MPA. Mr. Shubick suggested the board distribute a newsletter and an open house was held. The City of Dayton urged Dr. Vogel to focus on services within Montgomery County. In February 1972, the laws had changed allowing non-medical people to be health commissioners and medical directors were made responsible to the Board of Health ORC 3709.11.
In 1972 one member of the board was challenged due to non-attendance at meetings. A letter was sent to the individual to urge them to find a replacement.
Adequate funding for air pollution activities were of concern in the early 70s. On July 10, 1971, the Board of Health adopted emission standards for Greene County. There would be 9 regions in Ohio for air pollution. In 1972, legal action was taken against a polymer dispersion company for carbon black settling across neighborhoods. A soil scientist position was added to the health district in 1972. Soils data are used in the design and approval of on-site sewage systems. The design of sewage systems ensures a healthful and pleasant living and working conditions. The board was denying residential plat development due to inadequate sewerage and connection problems. Recommendation at the time was to have one sanitarian for every 20,000 population. Burning at the Xenia landfill and conditions at the fair were topics of board meetings.
According to the 1972 annual report 15,274 home care visits were completed for all age groups. A billing position was created in 1972 to secure payment from home care patients. They used dictating machines and transcribers for documenting home visits conducted by public health nurses. Nurses completed 922 visits to schools. There were 90 gonorrhea cases and 29 syphilis cases reported that year. Later in 1972 the environmental services team also purchased dictation machines. Time studies showed these methods were a time savings/cost savings measure.
The board discussed the need to the public to bring in decapitated heads for rabies testing. Dr. Vogel suggested the health district purchase a machete knife for sanitarians to carry into the field to remove heads. In 1972 mass immunization of dogs and cats was recommended by the Ohio Department of Health due to resurgence of rabies in the skunk population. The county commissioners advanced money to the health district to purchase vaccine in order conduct mass vaccination of animals. In January 1973, the environmental health team moved to Church street with the Alcohol unit.
Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox, public information officer for Greene County Public Health, contributed to this column.