Begins talks with county health district

Last updated: August 15. 2014 4:20PM - 333 Views
By - mechelberry@civitasmedia.com

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The Galion Board of Health has been in the process of selecting a new health commissioner after the resignation of Dr. Steve Novack last month. On Tuesday morning the Board offered the position to Stephanie Zmuda.

Zmuda is currently the director of environmental health at the Galion Health Department. She had also been serving as interim commissioner while the Board conducted interviews. (Novack is staying on board as the medical director until Oct. 9.)

After narrowing the search down to Zmuda and one other candidate, the Board had a final discussion in executive session during its monthly meeting on Aug. 12. Members then voted to offer Zmuda the position.

Before officially accepting, Zmuda explained in an email: “[Board of Health members] Doug Schilling and Dennis Long will be meeting with me to make the offer and discuss the particulars, on a date that has yet to be determined.”

Also during the meeting, the Board spent more than an hour talking to representatives from the Crawford County General Health District. The Galion Health Department has experienced a somewhat strained relationship with the CCGHD over the years. In one instance, last year it did not receive a portion of a Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant from the district.

That morning, Dr. Tim Hollinger was on hand to explain how this year’s PHEP funding will be different. He was recently selected as interim health commissioner of CCGHD, while still working as commissioner for the Huron County General Health District. Sis Love, a CCGHD Board member, joined him.

Hollinger explained CCGHD will be hiring a planner for the grant, who starts Monday. This individual will develop the plans and must also contact affiliated agencies, such as the Galion Health Department.

He noted that he has observed there are not a lot of joint exercises between the public health departments, Crawford County Emergency Management Agency, and local law enforcement and hospitals. PHEP funding encourages that type of collaboration.

A path towards accreditation

The group also discussed the state-mandated accreditation process, in which all public health agencies will be required to be accredited by 2018.

Hollinger explained that Huron County is close to submitting all of its documents for review. He gave his analysis of where CCGHD stands; in short, it is not ready to apply for accreditation yet.

“If we really concentrate on this, I could have them ready in a year-and-a-half,” Hollinger said, adding that it is a long process.

According to him, both departments applying for accreditation together would be “the cheapest and smartest thing to do.” “The state is saying there are too many departments for the taxpayers to cover. There either needs to be less of them, or we need to create a better model for shared services.”

On this point, Doug Schilling asked, “What’s changing the thinking at the county level? This is a 180-degree change.”

Sis Love responded that several members of CCGHD’s board have changed recently. “Tim brought a lot to the board’s attention and the model we were working from was outdated,” she said, adding that limited resources are another factor.

“This board is not motivated in collaboration based on the finances,” Mayor Tom O’Leary commented. “We have said from the beginning that it should be driven by improving services.”

Hollinger agreed, saying that through accreditation, efficiency will be gained, but that does not necessarily mean total dollars saved. He said the important thing is doing more for the community and producing better results.

At the end of the discussion, both parties agreed there should be a “retreat” for the boards of both departments. They will discuss common goals and the possibility of applying for accreditation together. The date is to be determined.

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