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Local

Jasper, Poweshiek to share backup public health position

Samuel Nusbaum/Daily News
Jasper County Board of Public Health Board Chair Margot Voshell and board member Michael Balmer listen to a slideshow presentation during the Jasper County Health Department meeting Thursday Afternoon. The slideshow was on return on investment for public health.
Samuel Nusbaum/Daily News Jasper County Board of Public Health Board Chair Margot Voshell and board member Michael Balmer listen to a slideshow presentation during the Jasper County Health Department meeting Thursday Afternoon. The slideshow was on return on investment for public health.

The Jasper County Board of Public Health discussed a backup position and viewed a presentation on public health return on investment during its meeting Thursday.

The memorandum is between the Jasper County Board of Public Health and the Poweshiek County Board of Public Health and is an agreement to make sure one county will take care of the environmental health services of the other if their environmental health employee is unable to perform their duties for a short time.

“We were trying to be creative with ways for Kevin (Luetters) to have a backup ... we wanted something to take to Poweshiek Board of Health as an agreement to have a backup plan in place,” Jasper County Health Administrator Becky Pryor said.

She said she and Luetters, who is the Environmental Health Director drew upon what other counties had tried to do in terms of memorandums and the agreement would be reciprocal and will be used in case of emergencies only.

The board of supervisors recently eliminated the backup position when drawing up the budget due to lack of funds to support it. Luetters is the only person trained in environmental health.

Pryor said this memorandum is important because filling this spot is not as simple as placing a random staff member in the position, as there is a lot of training and experience needed to conduct the job well.

It was decided Pryor would go to Poweshiek’s next board of health meeting and present the memorandum.

The board also welcomed Carol Wall, who introduced herself as one of the new home care aids who grew up in Newton.

“My last job I worked almost 13 years at Progress Industries working with mentally handicapped people,” Wall said.

She said she enjoys meeting different people every day as they all have a story to tell.

Also on the agenda was a slideshow presentation on public health return on investment. The presentation covered topics such as mental health and substance abuse, workplace wellness and early childhood issues such as immunization.

Pryor said at a convention she went to, she learned the country spends $3.3 trillion on health care and it is 1.5 percent of the economy.

Pryor said mental health and substance abuse are the biggest priority for Newton. Every $1 spent on mental health and addiction saves a patient $7 in health costs.

She said the United States spends an estimated $21 billion is spent on treatment of drug and alcohol abuse, which is 1.3 percent of all health care expenditures.

“So we have been working with the Substance Abuse Coalition, we are working with children in the schools to prevent them from starting substance abuse,” Pryor said.

Pryor talked about mental health and workplace wellness, stating smokers cost companies $4,200 in expenses and are not as productive as non-smokers. She also said there are 500,000 absences every day due to mental illness and diabetic employees average 8.3 sick days a year.

Solutions she offered were encouraging employees to be more physically active, quitting smoking and allowing for one extra day off for every three months an employee does not take a sick day.

She said child vaccinations prevent 322 illnesses and prevent more than 730,000 deaths.

Contact Samuel Nusbaum at
641-792-3121 ext. 6533
or at snusbaum@newtondailynews.com

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