County’s health grant for moms receives cutback

By: By Beth Lawrence - [email protected]

LAURINBURG – Scotland County Health Department is scrambling to cover a shortfall of more than$17,000 from the Healthy Mothers/Healthy Children Block Grant.

The Scotland County Board of Health had no choice but to approve the reduction in funding at its September meeting, officials said.

Tim Martin, fiscal management supervisor at the Scotland County Health Department, received notice in July that he would be getting a reduction of $17,288 in funding from the block grant. The amount the county receives dropped from $114,691 to $97,401.

That money is used to pay maternal health, child health and family planning services.

Dr. Mike Labib, the county’s veterinary representative to the board, expressed concern over how the reduction would impact patient care.

“Why do we want to reduce funding — we should always try to do more for the people, for the families,” Labib asked. “How big an impact is that going to be?”

Labib was told by several health department staff members that the department was not allowed to cut patient care, but that it would now be expected to do “more with less.”

Martin received the notification after he had already created and submitted the Health Department’s budget for the 2017/18 fiscal year, so he is left to find ways to make up for the deficit.

“That amount will have to be covered by the county,” Martin said. “I’ll have to move money from other programs to cover the shortfall, from programs that have a surplus.”

Nearly half of the reduction could be covered by another grant designed to help reduce infant mortality rates.

“Hopefully this $8,000 that we’ll receive in grant money, we will be able to use that to help,” said Health Department Director Kristen Patterson.

In other business, Nursing Director Tina Clark told the board that sexually transmitted disease rates in the county continue to rise.

In 2016, the county had nine cases of syphilis up form up form six in 2015. Cases of gonorrhea increased from 73 in 2015 to 90 in 2016, according to a communicable disease report.

There were 305 cases of chlamydia in 2016; that number rose from 284 in 2015.

“STD rates are rising; they are not going away,” Clark said. “We actually have a gonorrhea that is resistant to antibiotics, now so how do you get rid of that?”

Clark asked the board and staff members at the meeting to share ideas for how to address the problem.

“If we wait until a man or woman is old enough to walk into a barbershop or hair salon, we’re wasting our time,” said Chairman Bob Davis, referring to the department’s program of distributing condoms to local barbershops and salons. “If you don’t start in middle schools — we need to have sex education. Until we’re able to go into the schools and promote sex education, the numbers will do nothing but go up.”

There was a bit of good news with regard to HIV rates; as of Dec. 2016 the county had 136 adults and adolescents living with HIV with three of those being new diagnoses. The new diagnoses fell by three from six in 2015.

In other business, different factions of the Health Department updated the board on their activities to promote health and wellness issues and training to stay up-to-date on matters of importance.

The department using its Facebook page to share information immunizations, breast feeding, disaster awareness, and walking for wellness.

The department’s new doctor, Hudson Jones, attended a training session with an HIV/AIDS specialist to enhance his knowledge of the disease and learn of new treatment measures.

Nurses Tina Clark and Debbie Maske attended training on food borne illness that designed help the county prepare for and handle an outbreak of food borne illnesses such as salmonella or e-coli.

The board also approved the fee schedule for the Health Department’s new Labs 2 Go program. The new service provides walk-in lab tests for anyone interested in having diagnostics done or on physician’s orders. Prices range from $5 for a Hemoglobin A1C test to diagnose diabetes to $29 for a T3 blood test used to measure thyroid function, help screen for hyperthyroidism and monitor thyroid levels in a person with a thyroid problem.

By Beth Lawrence

[email protected]

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169