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Henry County supervisors question public health budget proposal

Henry County Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin
Henry County Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin

The annual report and budget request from the Henry County Public Health prompted questions from members of the Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning.

Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin and other members of the staff discussed the various services Public Health provides to Henry County residents.

Some of those services include lead screenings, newborn home visitor program, breast and cervical cancer early detection program, maternal health, home health care for elderly residents, immunizations, mental health injections and communicable disease investigation.

Supervisor Chad White, who joined the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, asked what services are mandated for the county to provide.

“What are the mandated services of the local public health?” White asked. “I see you have 10 essential ones listed in your presentation. Are those mandated or are those deemed to be necessary?”

Van Dorin responded that they are all “deemed necessary” and that the county is mandated to have a public health department.

“What services are not mandated that are being provided here, above and beyond the mandate?” White pressed.

Van Dorin said she did not immediately know what services are mandated by law.

“What programs do you think are not important?” Van Dorin asked. “If they are not mandated, you want to get rid of anything that isn’t mandated?”

White responded, “I wouldn’t say that. I just wanted to know what was required by law that a department provides and if there are things that go above and beyond that.

“Not being from the health field at all, that’s why I ask.”

Van Dorin said she believed all of the services are necessary.

“I think we are assisting community members in making this county a better county,” she said. “I really don’t believe there are any services we want to cut.”

White asked if the department bills for any of its services.

“Health maintenance is on a sliding scale fee,” Van Dorin said. “If they fall below the sliding scale fee, they don’t have to pay.

“We don’t charge mental health clients, because I think if we charge them, they wouldn’t come in, and they would not get medicated.”

Supervisor Greg Moeller asked about the department’s home health care service.

“If you’re 65 or over and on Medicare, I do believe that’s a benefit under Medicare,” Moeller said.

Van Dorin said that there are few people who qualify for Medicare home health care.

“People who have chronic problems, even if they’re over 65, they really can’t depend on Medicare to help them maintain in the home,” Public Health board member Dr. Thomas Bainbridge added.

Van Dorin said that she reduced expenses by $109,000 for her proposed budget.

She also proposed a 5 percent raise for public health staff.

“We have worked on weekends and holidays since the beginning of March to follow up with everyone, and we work until the job gets done,” she said.

Henry County resident Mike Hampton urged supervisors to support Public Health.

“As a citizen of Henry County, I would be very much in support of public health,” Hampton said. “If we do not have our health, what do we have?

“I’m glad to see our public health expanding and doing things for different people.”