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City not interested in health merger

January 23, 2013

The idea of merging with the Washington County Health Department has gotten a chilly reception from the Marietta City Board of Health....

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Jan-25-13 10:25 AM

ALL that was asked at the meeting, was that a dialogue needed to be created to discuss the risks and potential to better serve our region at lower costs with improved long term population health. Continuing to ask tax-payers to fund multiple administrators, multiple health commissioners, multiple directors of nursing, multiple directors of environmental health etc. is unfathomable when there are examples all over the country of how consolidation can work to better facilitate the 10 essential services of public health. This is a turf war between the "good ol boys" who want to retain what premise of power they perceive they have however illusory. Right across the river is a 6 county health department that can run circles around the accolades of Marietta City HD. The residents of Washington County deserve to have their public health entities CONSIDER the possibility. To shoot the idea down at the first mention of even discussing the potential is troubling.

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Jan-25-13 10:19 AM

The comparison between a sick and healthy dog really speaks to the root of ignorance displayed by so many in this region. There are many circumstances where a healthy person can make a sick person well. Think kidney transplants, one healthy person will remain healthy after donating a kidney and the person who had been condemned to life-altering, expensive, daily dialysis can now lead a healthy life as can the kidney donor. Healthy donor can provide life-saving blood plasma or an even better example is a bone marrow transplant. While there are minimal risks for the healthy individual, the sick individual has a much better chance at not only surviving, but thriving. Our region has a problem and using inapplicable country bumpkin analogies is ignorant at best and could be devastating at worst for our region’s most disparate citizens. A merger could be a minimal risk to the city, but to the county overall and to ALL of the residents, it would be a vast improvement.

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Jan-23-13 4:30 PM

slogoin, the primary burden of multiple health departments in the county is the cost of administration, not the cost of front-line workers. The county health department serves twice the population and 2 or 3 times the geographic area of the city department with very similar numbers of employees when you adjust for the fact the county employs 5 people to run the dental clinic, which the city of Marietta does not contribute towards but their residents receive the services. So, there is certainly enough work to keep everyone busy without creating any additional "make work" regulations.

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Jan-23-13 2:50 PM

382,I was referring to a consolidated health dept.It would leave some overlapping positions.

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Jan-23-13 2:38 PM

slogoin, it seems like the county health department is down enough staff members that cutting more jobs would be unnecessary. The county has an acting health commissioner, an acting director of nursing and an acting administrator. Combining with the cities would mean that those positions could be filled with current staff members from one of the other departments instead of picking the tax payers' pockets for three new employee wage and benefit packages.

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Jan-23-13 1:57 PM

Mary,I think they get some grants ect for projects ect.I am not sure about the townships share of that total budget.I will try to find out.

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Jan-23-13 1:13 PM

There is NO WAY, the City Health department should merge with the county.

Ludicrous idea.

We surely do not want the City taking over our roads either.

Why would the City get involved with the county health services?

Makes no sense.

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Jan-23-13 1:10 PM

The city health departments run on the amount of money our township contributes all by itself.

I know they cover alot but hey; 1.3 million; give me a break. Must be a lot of pork.

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Jan-23-13 12:59 PM

I like what you have to say Informed Citizen. We should all be so well informed.

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Jan-23-13 12:40 PM

@BeRight: Thanks for your comments. Thoughtfully and well stated.

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Jan-23-13 12:36 PM

@ResearchGrl best not "out" yourself that way, "That dog won't hunt."

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Jan-23-13 12:21 PM

So who ends up losing their job's due to efficiency?Being government,noone.Thats the problem.Then they eill write/enforce new regs to make work for themselves.This was almost the scenario when the county building permit system was almost pushed through.Another reason that Cora needed to go.Using a permit sys reduced the amt that the commissioners had to give to the engineering dept.Cost shifting.Getting permission to build on your own land.

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Jan-23-13 11:48 AM

McConkey is well aware of the low level of education that many people have in this area including some of the folks who post on these forums. The dog analogy worked simply because even dumbbells would get it.

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Jan-23-13 11:29 AM

Now is the perfect time for 3 health departments in our rural county to consolidate. Public health funding to support health departments is being reduced. Revenue from clinical services at health departments is decreasing. Reducing duplicated services from the 3 health departments would save tax payer money without reducing services. In fact, services could be extended through the reduction in administration & overhead. Instead of paying 3 Health Commissioners, 3 Directors of Nursing, 2 Directors of Environmental Health, only 1 of each would be needed, allowing more funds for services. Money can also be saved through the reduction of rent and utility for 3 department offices. It's much better to consolidate before you are forced, because it can be on your terms. Consolidation WILL be forced by the State eventually, and then it will be on the State's terms. Marietta needs to do this while they have leverage.

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Jan-23-13 11:16 AM

Besides the portion of Marietta residents that choose to come to the Washington Co. Health Dept. for services that are duplicated at both departments, Mr. McConkey regrettably didn't mention that the following services have been provided to Marietta residents (either directly or via grant assistance) from the Washington Co. Health Dept.: the dental clinic, dental sealants in schools, nature trails, community gardens, bike racks, Indian Acres skatepark, Broughton's disc golf course, Washington playground, Jackson Park dog park, multiple trainings for schools and preschools, activity guides and maps promoting Marietta resources, numerous physical activity/nutition/tobacco prevention programs, and various resources for senior facilities, schools, and worksites. It is 2013. Don't stand in the way of progress and efficiency because you want to do things the way they were done in 1980. If you want to serve on a public health Board, understand what public health IS.

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Jan-23-13 10:44 AM

If no one had any more information than what was in the Times at the time of their meeting, I can understand their reluctance. Sounds like the County didn't do a good job of preparation for the meeting. Get all the facts, then make the decision. Those who are reluctant should remember that they have the opportunity to create this new organization. It seems premature to dismiss the possibility at this point.

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Jan-23-13 10:33 AM

@Tessie: As far as the county is concerned, board members are compensated for the meetings they attend. How much? I'm unsure. I'm would assume the city board members are paid as well. The county Health Department has some internal personal confilicts to say the least. Which would explain a lot with respects to them being in the red for multiple years.

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Jan-23-13 10:29 AM

Duplication of services is a waste of taxpayer money. It makes sense to combine services into one agency, the Washington County Health Department. Ms. Strahler, Dr. Brocket, and Mr. McConkey are mentioned. Who are the other members of the Health Boards and exactly what is their function? Are they paid, or is this done as a community service? Let's see more transparency in government. There seem to be many layers of "authority" to dig through, with most unnecessary.

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Jan-23-13 10:26 AM

The county has their work cut out for them with this matter. As a citizen of the county, I would urge the two city departments to at least listen to whatever the county has to say. On the flip side, I understand the cities' concern with a merger due to the county's recordable failure in past years.

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Jan-23-13 10:05 AM

Meanwhile, Marietta residents continue to go to the County Health Department for their needs. Where is the city department anyway?

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Jan-23-13 9:42 AM

Really scandalous? A country bumpkin? I'm pretty sure Mr. McConkey doesn't care whether you respect his opinion or not. In fact, I'm sure of it--I'm his daughter. In fact, I would rather be a country bumpkin than a coward. What did you say your name was again?

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Jan-23-13 9:28 AM

Oh I don't know scandalous, I think the 'dog' analogy might be rather apt because I think it is more of a dog protecting it's territory, a dog fighting to keep it's share of dinner, a dog in the manger attitude, a dog in......well you get the idea. Maybe the real problem is that we have City Health Board members who have sat on the City Health Board for more then 20 years.

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Jan-23-13 8:04 AM

McConkey may be a fine man, but anyone who compares organizations to dogs in a quote going to the newspaper is a country bumpkin to me. I have little respect for the opinion of someone who says such silly things in the public arena.

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