While most governmental agencies in the area are grappling with cuts and decreased funding, the Long County Health Department recently learned their funding is scheduled to increase during the next seven years.
At the Long County Board of Health’s March 3 meeting, Coastal Health District administrator of finances Brent Jordan reported that the state funding, which currently is $75,000 annually for the county, will increase incrementally by approximately 131 percent by 2018.
“This is really good news for the Long County Board of Health,” Jordan said.
He said Long County’s increase is due to a new formula for calculating grant and aid funding for Georgia counties. Jordan said that under the new formula, 41 counties had their funding reduced by $8.5 million and that money will be used to increase funding for the remaining 118 counties, which includes Long County.
Jordan said Long County’s immediate increase will be around $13,000 and the amount will rise proportionately each year until it reaches $172,000 in 2018. Revenue for Georgia is on the rise, he said, and through February of fiscal year 2011, it is up 8.1 percent or $588 million over the 2010 fiscal year.
Also during the meeting, Long County Environmental Health officer Fredrick Walton reported that there had been several norovirus cases that had been confirmed at Coastal Manor Long Term Care Facility in Ludowici. He said that after the reports were made, an epidemiologist investigated. According to the epidemiologist’s report, Walton said, it could not be determined where the cases originated but they are not believed to have come from food.
He said norovirus cases could be spread through food, fluids, person-to-person contact and by surface contact, such as door knobs and countertops. The cases are common in long-term care facilities, Walton said, and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Walton also said he asked the Long County Commission and the Ludowici City Council to adopt an ordinance enacting a code of enforcement for rules and regulations from the board of health. He said there have been several violations in the county, including raw sewage being dumped on the ground. Walton said that without the ordinance being codified, it is difficult to enforce the current regulations. If the ordinance is passed, it would streamline enforcement, he said, and people who are cited and refuse to comply would have to appear before the county’s magistrate judge.
In other business:
• Health Director Dr. W.D. Skelton reported that Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald had been appointed as the new director of public health for the state.
• Skelton also praised Rep. Mickey Channell for sponsoring HB-214. According to Skelton, the proposed bill would move the state’s public health functions out of the Department of Community Health and establish a new Department of Public Health.
• The Long County BoH will hold their next meeting June 2 at the BoH office.