Liberty County Health Department Administrator Deidre Howell updated the Hinesville City Council on the department’s accomplishments for the past year and upcoming challenges.
The biggest challenge, as it is for all the departments in the Coastal Health District, are state budget cuts, Howell said. The district lost $86,000 last year due to a reformulation based on perceived population, she said.
“They’re still using 2000 census numbers,” Howell said. Savannah is also considered a metropolitan area, she explained.
The district serves Liberty, Long, Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn and McIntosh counties.
Health departments are seeing an increase in demand for services yet must make do with decreased revenue, she added.
Also, the local department has had a hiring freeze and still has two vacancies which remain unfilled, one of which is for an environmental health inspector, Howell said.
On a positive note, Liberty County Health Department is one of 15 counties in the state to receive Adolescent Health and Youth Development Partnership funds, she told the council. Howell said the department partners with other agencies, such as the YMCA, the Liberty County Blazers, Project Reach/GANG, Grow-A-Girl Network, Team Hinesville, the Fraser Center and Riceboro churches in an effort to reduce teen pregnancies through youth development services. Still, if legislators see a significant reduction in teen pregnancies, which is what health officials are striving to accomplish, state officials may think these services are no longer needed and could cut funding in the near future, Howell said.
Some of the department’s accomplishments include having administered 1,102 free vaccines to residents, she said. The vaccines were given for tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella and hepatitis.
Liberty County Health Department has done well in its efforts to prevent cancer this year through such programs as BRAVE (Be Readily Available and Very Empathetic) which provides free mammograms, diagnostics and breast cancer support services, the Suzie Q’s breast cancer support group, and the Bottoms Up coalition which provided 44 uninsured residents’ colonoscopies, Howell said.
“We prevented about $2 million worth of cancer treatment,” she said.
On a lighter note, Howell said the Suzie Q’s will appear on WTOC’s Mid-Morning Live next month, in anticipation of the 2011 Susan G. Komen Savannah Race for the Cure, to be April 16.
Some of the department’s concerns also include issues with its facilities, Howell continued. The department’s main building at 1113 E. Oglethorpe is in major need of repair and renovation, she said. And since a new WIC clinic is being built on Fort Stewart, about 2,200 military WIC clients are currently being served at the health department in Hinesville, Howell added.
In other city business:
• The Georgia Municipal Association Ethics Certification Committee recertified Hinesville as a City of Ethics. The city must go through a city of ethics recertification process every four years, according to GMA.
• The council approved awarding a $64,634.44 bid to Hinesville Ford for three new police cars. The budget for the vehicles was set at $68,190.
• The city awarded a $116,158.82 contract to McLendon Enterprises for the Surrey Road Detention Pond project at the city’s public works site.