WAPELLO — A grant-funded program that is providing HIV and Hepatitis C educational and testing services in Johnson County received the go-ahead Wednesday to expand into Louisa County.
Johnson County Public Health Service (JCPHS) staffers Kathryn Edel and Amelia Slaichert provided the Louisa County Board of Health (BOH) with a description of the program currently being provided in Johnson County under that county’s HIV/Hepatitis Integrated Testing Program.
Under that program, the two said public health workers are able to operate outreach sites throughout Johnson County and complete rapid testing for the two conditions.
The program also provides sex education materials for distribution.
Louisa County Public Health Service (LCPHS) Administrator Roxanne Smith had previously reported Louisa County did not offer those services and Edel indicated Louisa County residents were travelling into Johnson County for testing and other services.
She said expanding the program into Louisa County would benefit those residents and also meet state guidelines.
“A new requirement of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is that we identify counties that we can actually expand services into,” she said.
Services that could be offered included rapid testing, assistance with obtaining medication and other help.
LCBOH Medical Director Dr. Suneel Parvathareddy questioned the two over the occasional false positives reported from rapid testing.
Slaichert acknowledged that possibility, but said if those cases the health workers are able to immediately draw blood samples and submit those for further testing. They also provide counseling in those cases and offer other assistance.
“We stay in contact with that person,” she assured the board, adding the five-year grant that started in 2017 providing the necessary funding for the services.
“I would love to get (rapid testing) in Louisa County,” Smith said following the presentation from the two and BOH members agreed.
“I think it’s great,” BOH vice-chair Whitney Howell said and other board members informally agreed, paving the way for the expansion to move forward.
Edel said a more formal agreement likely would need to be developed and presented later. In the meantime, Smith and Edel said they would continue to discuss the arrangement and finalize details.
Edel and Slaichert said they believed the schedule would probably call for one visit a month by their staff to Louisa County.
In other action, Brian Thye and Bruce Hudson provided an update on environmental health actions they had provided in June and July under the county’s service contract with Rural Utility Services System (RUSS).
Hudson also provided an update on recent legal proceedings that had been filed regarding the septic system at 14035 70th Street, Wapello. The two also reported an older case involving a rural Columbus Junction home belonging to David Jennings had been dropped because the house had recently burned down.
Hudson also presented a proposed ordinance that would allow his staff to begin inspecting tanning salons and tattoo parlors. Officials indicated there would be fewer than 10 tanning salons operating in the county and they were not aware of any operating tattoo parlors.
The ordinance, which must be approved by the county board of supervisors, would set inspection fees at $40 per tanning bed with a $400 cap.
In other action, the BOH:
• Reviewed public health data for June and July;
• Received a QAPI ( Quality Assurance Performance Improvement) report from LCPHS nurse Leah McElhinney.
Parvathareddy, a Muscatine physican, also announced he would need to retire from the BOH because of new duties and other activities he had assumed. He assured the rest of the members he would not leave until a new medical director could be found.