I got word last week that the Kent Health Department was part of a team that received a Healthy Community Services Award for their effort to help the residents in our community stay out in front of the H1N1 pandemic and stay healthy. The H1N1 virus doesn’t care about political boundaries and I’m pleased to report that neither did our local health agencies (Kent Health Department, Ravenna Health Department and the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management) all of whom partnered together to manage H1N1 information distribution, medical supplies, and medical response in a unified and coordinated strategy that made public health the top priority.
The Kent Health Department is affiliated with the City of Kent, meaning we share office space and many administrative functions, but it’s less an official agency of the City than it is an extension of a state agency since it is funded through a combination of state aid and fees for services, and most of its authority relates to the protection and enforcement of state codes. The Health Commissioner works at city hall so the natural assumption is that he’s another department head like the Police Chief or Fire Chief but that’s not actually true. While the City department heads report to the City Manager, the Health Commissioner reports to the members of his Health Board in the same way that I report to the City Council. Our missions are tied together but the administration of Health Department programs is actually fairly autonomous.
The Department of Public health states its mission as the control and prevention of diseases that they accomplish through a variety of programs, all of which aim to promote a better quality of life for all citizens. Here’s a look at the Health Department functions:
The City of Kent Health Department provides numerous public health-related services to the citizens of Kent. These services include annual licensing and inspection of restaurants, vending machines, public swimming pools, sanitation vehicles and multiple use housing. The Health Department is also responsible for vital statistics, providing medical assistance to indigent Kent residents, sponsoring a monthly immunization program, and administering the City’s mosquito control program. The Health Department contracts with Robinson Memorial Visiting Nurses for the provision of nursing services and clinics, and with Townhall II for the provision of acute medical services. The department responds to citizen complaints concerning threats to public health, e.g., noise, noxious odor, rats, etc. The department also manages the pretreatment of industrial wastes prior to processing at the City’s water reclamation facility.
In total, the Kent Health Services budget is $900,000 a year. Roughly 70% of that is related to the personnel that provide public health services in our community.
(press release on Kent Healthy Community Service Award)
MHRB awards recognize community service
Nearly 100 friends of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County were on hand for the county organization’s annual event at The Tannery in downtown Kent during national Mental Health Month. Board Chairman Ron Heineking of Kent and Executive Director Hal Farrier were in charge of the program and giving out awards to 11 individuals and four organizations.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Portage County 2010 Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year. This year’s recipient is Officer Jeff Futo of Kent State University Police Services. He was introduced by Dean Tondiglia, associate director of Public Safety for KSU. The honor is given annually by the Mental Health & Recovery Board and the Portage County Police Chiefs’ Association. It recognizes the outstanding work of an officer who has been trained in the national Crisis Intervention Team program and is using those skills on the job. CIT provides officers and other law enforcement professionals with education and hands-on training to deal effectively with persons in crisis situations, especially if those individuals have mental illness.
In its fourth year, more than 180 Portage County professionals from police agencies, the courts, corrections, hospital and human service agencies have completed the week-long course. The program is coordinated by the Mental Health Recovery Board of Portage County with the assistance of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office. CIT is offered through the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national organization of persons with mental illness, family members and advocates who work to improve the lives of those with mental illness.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board also awarded the first Chairman’s Distinguished Service Award to Melissa Millis of Ravenna for her volunteer work with consumers. Major Dennis Missimi of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office was awarded the CIT Founder’s Award for establishing and expanding the CIT program in Portage County.
Healthy Communities Service Recognition honors went to the Portage County Health Department, the Ravenna City Health Department, Kent City Health Department and the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for their roles in fighting the H1N1 pandemic.
The event also celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Family-to-Family Education Program which provides a free education course and support to families and loved ones of children and adults with mental illness. Mary Ann Doerzbacher of Aurora, who served on the MRHB, worked with the board and local NAMI chapter to start the program. She was honored at the reception along with other instructors, Joe Vero of Aurora, Tracy Stamm of Mantua and Terri McGuckin of Kent.