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Douglas County Board of Health meeting report

By Jim Allen
The Douglas County Board of Health held their scheduled monthly meeting on January 27, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.  Minutes were approved and bills were discussed.

The summer food program, which is reimbursed by the state, was discussed.  Tuscany’s of Paris was the provider last year but has closed and is now under new ownership. The health department is now working with the new owner to continue the food program for this year.

The bill for Patterson Dental Supplies was discussed.  The bill for dental supplies varies from $8,000 to $12,500 a month depending on the amount of services provided. Services provided include a full range of dental care from exams and cleaning to root canals and crowns. Costs are reimbursed by patient payment through the public insurance managed care organizations (formally public aid), patient fee for service (patients that don’t have insurance pay out of pocket), and grants.  All out of county patients that are not paying through public insurance pay a $5 out of county fee.  The health department has been very fortunate to receive many grants from different funders including but not limited to: Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, SIU school of medicine, Delta Dental, and the Meister Fund (for Douglas County residents 55 and older).  The dental clinic serves more than 2,000 patients per year.  The dental clinic is an outstanding facility and some costs are reimbursed by the cost to the Health Department for employee insurance was mentioned.  The amount per employee is $900.00 per month for a total cost to the Health Department of $11,700 per month.  A question was raised by visitors as to whether all county employees were locked into Health Alliance as the insurance provider. With no further discussion, the bills were approved.

The Health Department has hired physicians for the coming year as has been the case since inception.  The doctors are hired with salary and benefits, as are all county employees.  The contract with the doctors is renewed yearly.  This contract is from 12-2019 to 12-2020.

The Health Department has received an immediate request from the Douglas County Board Chairman to change the status of the employment of the doctors to independent contractors.

This is supposed to give more “legal separation between these doctors and either the DCHB or Douglas County”.  No suggestion was given by the DCHB as to how the doctors were to be convinced to change a contract that, at this time, has benefits of IMRF.  Questions were raised as to whether compensation will be provided by the County Board to cover the lost benefits.

The doctors have provided certificates of personal liability and malpractice insurance which have been received by the County Board. Questions were raised as how this would provide more protection than is already provided since any lawsuit would naturally include the County Board  since they are the ones directing the change and therefore is directly involved with the Health Department.  There has never been a claim against the Health Department.

The notice was given to the Health Department Administrator on January 23, 2020 and the task of changing the contracts was to be completed by March 1, 2020.  The County Board had been discussing this issue in the latter months of 2019 {was contact made with the HD during this time}

Dr. Whitaker, President of the Health Board, suggested that a policy be instituted for new Board of Health members to help when there is a vacancy. Jeremy Leonard, who had served on the board for a year was interviewed in executive session for one and a half hours before the County Board approved his appointment in the unpaid position.  A visitor to the meeting asked if all appointees for county positions, including County Board vacancies would need an executive session interview before approval.  The Health Board made no comment.  This was the first year in the history of the County Health Department that the County Board has required interviews.

Tobacco 21 compliance checks will be made by the Health Department again this year.  These checks include proper signage and will be performed in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Department

The election of officers was as follows:  Virginia Wade, president, Jeremy Leonard, vice president, Nancy Simpson, secretary.

At this time there are two doctors and one dentist, a retired judge, a medical software specialist, Nancy Simpson.  Bibby Appleby, Douglas County Board member also serves.  If Dr. Whitaker is approved at the next PLM committee, there will be three doctors on the board of health.  I find this to be a quite impressive board. 

The election of officers was as follows:  Virginia Wade, president, Jeremy Leonard, vice president, Nancy Simpson, secretary.  With no other business, the meeting adjourned.

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