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By Carmen Ensinger
Greene County Health Department Public Health Administrator Molly Peters gave some impressive news to board members at the Nov. 10 County Board meeting. They received written approval from the State for the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs (IPLAN).
“This is a pretty big deal for health departments as it affects recertifications,” Peters said. “Other departments have had to ask for an extension because it is a pretty lengthy document to complete.”
The IPLAN is a community-based health assessment and planning process conducted every five years by local health departments. This plan is based on the Assessment Protocol for Excellence in Public Health model and addresses the core functions of public health and addresses public health practice standards.
“This plan has lots of information about what is going on in our community and gives a really good picture of what is happening in our communities,” Peters said. “We determined our priority groups and what we are going to focus on in the next five years.”
Food access was the number one priority on the list followed by access to mental health services, substance abuse prevention and access to recreational activities in the county.
“During one of our focus groups, we talked about really wanted to see more of our community participate in recreational activities,” Peters said. “There are things we can do to better advocate for that and we have some goals and ideas on what we can do to contribute to that.”
Peters said after the IPLAN was sent to the state it was sent back to them with zero revisions, which, in her own words was “pretty awesome.”
Peters reported that the Health Department received a Family Planning grant that will allow them to hire a nurse practitioner to work in the area of family planning.
“This was a service that was provided previously, but no more,” Peters said. “So, we are going to work on increasing that service through this grant.”
They also received an extension on their mass vaccination grant which will supply more grant funds to the health department.
“What we are going to do with this grant is to provide vaccinations in more equitable locations,” Peters said. “We have been working with Dr. Randy Voigts who has a building in Roodhouse and we are going to be providing a vaccination clinic there.”
The idea is to make the vaccine more available to those in the northern part of the county without having to drive to the Health Department in Carrollton.
“We are going to attempt to increase our case load with this Roodhouse location,” Peters said. “We will also probably work on some family planning through this location as well. All of this is being funded through this grant. The State was pretty ecstatic that we were going to attempt to restore resources to that location where they are very much needed.”
The Heath Department has been working short staffed for quite some time and Peters announced that they have some new hires.
“We hired a home health nurse to replace one who left us,” she said. “She is a previous employee and is happy to be back with us. We also hired a Personal Health Services Clinic Operations Nurse. They deal with immunizations for schools trying to ensure that kids get their immunizations and flu shots.”
For those with insurance, Peters said the Health Department is now ale to bill insurance for flu shots and they would appreciate it if people would come to the Health Department to get their flu shots.
Peters said COVID cases have decreased some as well as hospitalizations.
“Our case numbers have gone down, so our contacts have gone down as well,” she said. “We did have 14 cases within the last week, though.”
Peters said 35 percent of the county is now fully vaccinated and the Health Department is still offering COVID and flu clinics and is now offering pediatric vaccine clinics as well for children between the ages of 5 and 12.