Marietta health board offers help to county

MARIETTA – The Marietta Board of Health on Monday asked city health commissioner Dr. Michael Brockett to contact the Washington County Health Board and determine if there is any way the city health department can be of assistance to the county department.

“What do they need help with? We want to offer them a hand, if they need it,” said city health board member Hugh McConkey.

Environmental health director Gerald Gulley agreed, but noted the city had not been contacted by the county board about needing any assistance.

“My concern is that we really don’t know what their problems are,” he said. “I would like to hear about that from the county board.”

McConkey made a motion to request that Brockett contact the county health board and offer the city department’s help if it is needed. Fellow board members John Spear and Diane White approved the motion.

Citing ever-increasing financial pressures and dwindling revenues, the Washington County Health Board voted in December not to renew health commissioner Kathleen Meckstroth’s contract that expired Dec. 31, 2012.

In addition, the Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic, administered by the county health department, did not receive an expected $59,000 subsidy grant from the state, and the health board had to ask the county commissioners for an advance to meet the department’s first payroll in 2013.

The county health department is operating on a skeleton crew, with one full-time and one part-time registered nurse.

The Ohio Department of Health has recommended that the county health board hire another full-time health commissioner and develop a business operational plan by July 1.

ODH has recommended that the county board consider sharing and merging services with the city health department, but during a meeting last month city health board members said they were not in favor of a permanent merger with the county.

After contacting the county health board about its needs, Brockett said he would report back to the city board of health during its next regular meeting at 9 a.m. Feb. 19 in the third floor conference room at 304 Putnam St.