Jan Larson McLaughlin
BG Independent News
The Wood County Health Department is focusing more on behavioral health, including for nursing staff whose lives have been upended by COVID.
At Thursday’s monthly meeting, the Board of Health voted for a Grief Assistance Program contract with the Putnam County Health Department. As everyone is moved by COVID, nursing staff at public health centers have been hit hard.
In two years, they went from a typical five-day work week to a seven-day work week, according to Amy Jones, director of nursing at the Wood County Health Department.
“The normality of what you thought was your job has been lost,” said Jones.
The Grief Program is designed to help public health nurses recover from COVID and develop coping strategies.
“This is what they really want,” Jones said of her staff. “This might help them move forward.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board of health voted to create new positions within the department, including a full-time behavioral health manager and a full-time behavioral health specialist.
Last summer, board members agreed that additional rooms dedicated to mental health were particularly needed right now. said to be identified as
“If a pediatric patient is identified as needing mental health support, they will have to wait six weeks just to be evaluated in order to be identified for service,” Robison said last summer. told to
Diana Krill, CEO of the Community Health Center, said the renovation will add two rooms dedicated to behavioral health. Her third room, planned for optometry services, could also be used as a separate space for mental health services, she said.
Mental health is now “integrated” with other services at health centers, Krill said. Additional rooms allow for individual counseling sessions.
Robison said there are plans to hire more behavioral staff.
“They will be used,” he said of the rooms dedicated to mental health needs.
Health Commissioner Richard Straw has noticed a significant drop in the number of deaths from substance abuse in the county, but the number of suicides has increased over the past year.
In addition to the new behavioral health position, Jones said health department epidemiologists will work to track substance abuse and suicide.
In its other duties, the Board of Health shall:
- Approved use of anti-pollution loan funds to replace broken domestic sewage systems. Some of these funds can be used to connect homes with broken systems to available sewers. Robison acknowledged that Lana Glore and Kelly Bechstein in the environmental department work hard to get funding each year.
- I heard from Jones that the flu rate in the area has started to go down a bit.
- I inquired about a measles outbreak in Ohio. Jones said the outbreak only occurred in the Columbus area. “Fortunately, here in Wood her county, there was none,” she said.
- I learned from Robison that a detailed budget will be submitted to the Board in March.
- After an executive session, an across-the-board 4% pay increase for health department employees was approved, reflecting pay increases set by the Wood County Commissioner for 2023.