Ohio University Teams With Area Counties To Train Health Workers

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(Athens)– The Jackson County Health Department is working in partnership with Ohio University to train and deploy 13 community health workers to address public health concerns and impacts of COVID-19 across 11 counties.

The project was made possible through a $4.5 million grant which was secured with the help of the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health. The grant will train workers in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties.

The Alliance was created in October 2017 as a partnership between OHIO and the University of Toledo and is made up of Ohio University employees. Rick Hodges, director of the Alliance, said projects like this are what the organization was created to do. 

The organization seeks to tackle problems at the local level using community members because they have a better understanding of their problems than outsiders. For Southeast Ohio, these problems are wide-reaching and complex.  

Melissa Kimmel is an Executive in Residence with the Alliance. She said Southeast Ohio residents have health factors which put them more at risk of catching COVID-19. 

“Our communities in Appalachia tend to have a higher rate of chronic illnesses and those factors make COVID-19 more impactful,” Kimmel said. To address this, the Alliance is training these community health workers to work on the front lines and improve health literacy in the region. 

A community health worker is a community member who receives training in advocacy and brokerage for health care resources and health changes. The key factor that makes community health workers a fit for this project is the fact they come from the community. 

“Sometimes people don’t necessarily trust health care and authority in the region, and these are people who speak like them and look like them being trained and returning to their communities to make them healthier,” Keri Shaw, an associate professor at Ohio University, said. 

Kevin Aston, health commissioner with the Jackson County Health Department, said these workers are key when it comes to health measures like vaccinations. 

“There’s no shortcut to building trust,” Aston said. “Folks who have interacted with me and my staff before the COVID emergency have been much more receptive to listening to what I and my staff have to say because we’ve spent time building those relationships.” 

Community health workers can facilitate those connections. The grant gives community members the chance to receive credible health information from their neighbors rather than outsiders. 

There is not a complete lack of community health care workers throughout Southeast Ohio, but Shaw says there is room for growth. Several county health departments currently employ community health care workers, but greater challenges limit health care accessibility. Hodges said the phenomenon of community health workers is a new, but severely needed. 

“This answers a need we’ve had in health care for a very long time,” Hodges said. “The lack of it has contributed to poor outcomes and I think the presence of community health workers is going to improve them significantly.” 

Those greater challenges Shaw mentioned include things like the age of the population, a resistance to seeking outside assistance, transportation, poverty, food options and housing issues. Due to these challenges, health care is not always accessible for Southeast Ohioans and COVID-19 only further complicated the issue. 

“I live in a suburb of Columbus, I have great health insurance and I can walk into any provider of my choice within an hour if I need to and get great care,” Hodges said. “People who live in Appalachia who don’t have access to good insurance or face issues like transportation don’t have those choices. There are good primary care providers in Appalachia, but if you can’t get to them, it’s an additional barrier.” 

Shaw, Hodges and Kimmel all stressed that the perception good health care is simply absent from the region or people in Appalachia just don’t make good health care decisions is patently false. The problem is the lack of access and that’s what the grant seeks to address. 

To implement the project, Ohio University chose to work with the Jackson County Health Department because it is uniquely positioned to best meet the goals of the grant.  

“Jackson County is a good fit to house this because the location is central to other counties in the area,” Kimmel said. “There’s a regional understanding of health that has been cultivated and the relationships between other health departments and Jackson County were already in place.” 

While the $4.5 million will more than double the budget of the Jackson County Health Department and come with a large influx of staff, the Alliance is confident it’s a responsibility the department is equipped to undertake. 

Aston added that the regional relationships will help his department transition into the grant smoother, and while he will be busy, he’s more than ready to take on the challenge. 

“The challenging part is that there’s still a pandemic going on,” Aston said. “Public health is still really busy with the pandemic and it’s hard now, but it’s going to get easier … there should be an adequate span of control for the work that’s going to happen.” 

The team working on the grant is taking a “strength-based approach,” which means highlighting what certain communities do well and replicating it throughout the area. 

Currently, applications for the community health worker applications are being reviewed. In the next month or so, interviews will begin. The team expects hires to be completed by mid- to late November and then training will begin soon after. 

Aside from the program’s immediate goals, the Alliance is hoping it has long-lasting effects on health care in Southeast Ohio. 

“I hope there is an embrace of health literacy, proactive health behaviors and I would really like to see a reduction in the stigma associated with Southeast Ohio,” Kimmel said.

Shaw added that she hopes to see an increase in trust of health departments and public health. She also hopes that there is an increased understanding of the important role community health workers can play. 

There’s also hopes among the Alliance that this grant and programs like it will lead to an increased presence of Medicaid providers in the area, which is currently among the challenges factoring into public health in Appalachia. 

Aston said he hopes the grant leaves Southeast Ohio in a position to achieve better health outcomes across the board. Factors like substance use, exercise habits and diet all feed into bad outcomes. Aston hopes increased health literacy can curb those outcomes. 

Beyond those goals, Aston wants to spread the word about not only Jackson County Health Department, but all health departments in the area. 

“I want people to know local health departments care about the citizens they serve, and I’m happy to have another ally on my team,” Aston said. “Sometimes I’ve heard public health officials maligned, but our hearts are in the right place and I’m happy we’re going to get some extra help and hopefully build some trust.”

Code Of Conduct Policy Set For Ross Commissioners Meetings

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A new Code of Conduct Policy for attending and or addressing meetings of The Ross County Commissioners has been approved and submitted to the public, through local media.

Some of the logic of the conduct policy is to address a recent ruling from the Ohio Attorney General that states, while public meetings can still be streamed live, members of the public that want to address the board must do so in-person.

This policy applies to all persons attending public meetings of the Ross County Board of Commissioners.

This Code of Conduct is intended to promote open meetings that welcome debate of issues Considered by the Board in an atmosphere of fairness, courtesy and respect for differing points of view.

Public Meeting Decorum
Persons in the audience will refrain from behavior which disrupts a public meeting of the Board. This will include making loud noises, clapping, shouting, booing, hissing, interrupting Board members or other members of the public, or engaging in any other activity that disturbs, disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.

Persons in the audience will refrain from creating, provoking or participating in any type of disturbance involving unwelcome physical contact or verbal abuse.

Persons in the audience will silence and refrain from using mobile phones while the meeting is in session.

The foregoing policies set forth in this Section 1 apply to meetings of the Board and meetings of Board committees.

The county clerk, as board secretary, shall maintain the agenda for the county board meetings. Advance public notice of all regular and special meeting dates and times shall be determined by the board. Notice of each meeting shall be publicized according to statute.

Submission of potential agenda items may be made:
By the public to the county clerk in writing, email, or over the phone during posted business hours only until 4:00 p.m. two working days prior to the meeting. Agenda items submitted by the public will be included on the agenda but discussion of these items is at the board’s discretion.

To the Board of any County Commissioner or County
Administrator who will consider the inclusion of the item on the final agenda, until 4:00 p.m. two working days prior to the meeting. The county clerk may not accept agenda items without approval of at least one board member.

At a regular or special board meeting only for an upcoming meeting.
Requests for items to be placed on the agenda shall be described clearly and explicitly, i.e. discussion of, resolution for, open or award bids, approval of, and whether official action is necessary.

The agenda shall not be altered later than twenty-four hours before the scheduled commencement of the meeting, except for items of an emergency nature. The county board shall have the right to modify the agenda to include items of an emergency nature

An agenda shall be published at 9:30 am the Friday, prior to the next board meeting. Distribution of the agenda to the public at this time shall be at the discretion of the board chair and/or the county clerk. The agenda will be posted at the county clerk’s office, and/or county board meeting room.

Commissioner’s packets shall be prepared and available for distribution to board members the Friday afternoon prior to the next scheduled meeting. All materials received by 9:30 a.m. the Friday prior to the meeting will be distributed in the board members’ packets. Materials received after the packets have been distributed to the board members will be available prior to the meeting.

The clerk may request at least one copy for the clerk and each board member of ALL materials relating to agenda items. One copy shall remain at the county clerk’s office for record retention.

Addressing the Board
Each group must be present in the meeting and will be given fifteen (15) minutes to speak on an agenda item, subject to extension at the discretion of the Chairperson.

Groups of attendees are encouraged to designate a single member to speak on behalf of the group. The group may distribute the time among various speakers if deemed necessary.

Each speaker should provide his or her name at the beginning of his or her remarks for the formal record. If a speaker represents an association or group, he or she should identify the entity he or she represents.Speakers should discuss only those topics for which they have requested to speak.

Speakers’ comments should be directed to the full Board.

If an individual wishes to submit written comments, he or she may submit it to the clerk of the board, and the comments will be distributed to the Board at the discretion of the Board President.

The policies set forth in this Section 2 do not entitle members of the public to address meetings of committees of the Board. Board committees may permit public comments at their sole discretion.

All meetings will be live – streamed starting January 2022 for viewing purposes only.

Viewers or individuals not on the meeting agenda will not be permitted to discuss agenda items through audio-visual equipment. Failure to comply with this Code of Conduct, use of inappropriate or abusive language toward members of the Board or Board committee or other attendees, and any conduct which will disturb, disrupt or impede the orderly conduct of Board meetings shall result in removal from the meeting. All meetings of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times. A member of a public body shall be present in person at a meeting open to the public to be considered present or to vote at the meeting and for purposes of determining whether a quorum is present at the meeting.

January Blood Drives Scheduled For Ross County

Presented By McDonald’s, “I’m Lovin’ It! & Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

(Chillicothe)- January is National Blood Donor Month, the perfect time to resolve to be a regular blood donor and help save lives. Those who come to give blood in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

As an extra thank-you from the Red Cross, those who come to donate will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information. The Red Cross continues to address a nationwide blood shortage. Donors of all blood types are needed to give now to ensure blood is available when patients need it.

Below are the Ross County blood drives that are open to the public in January.

  • Heritage Nazarene Church – Multi-Purpose Room
  • Tuesday January 4th                     
  • 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • To schedule an appointment call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org, sponsor code: HNC
  • St. Mary’s Catholic Church – Family Life Center
  • Thursday January 6th   
  • 12:00pm-5:00pm
  • To schedule an appointment call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org, sponsor code: StMarysFLC
  • Lions Club Chillicothe – Drive held at South Central Ohio Chapter
  • Monday January 17th               
  • 1:00pm-6:00pm
  • To schedule an appointment call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org, sponsor code: LionsChillicothe
  • South Central Ohio Chapter – Friedman Donor Room
  • Friday January 28th                  
  • 11:00am-5:00pm
  • To schedule an appointment call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org, sponsor code: SCOC

Surplus Funds Raised For Chillicothe’s Purple Heart City Monument- Donated To Local Veterans Group

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Chillicothe was designated a Purple Heart City in late June with a monument dedicated in Veterans Park on Veterans Day 2021. Melody Lapczynski, who organized the drive for Chillicothe’s Purple Heart status, appeared on a Litter Media Special Edition interview with Dan Ramey where she gave a follow up on the dedication of the Purple Heart Monument.

Money was raised in the community went for the constructing the Purple Heart Monument and the Purple Heart City signs that appear at the various City of Chillicothe entrances.

You can see Dan Ramey’s Litter Media Special Edition interview with Melody Lapczynski here, Presented By Classic Brands:

(Melody Lapczynski Appearing On Litter Media Live Special Edition)

The surplus of the funds raised for the monument and signs have been donated to the group known as Veterans In Transition, which is based at the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They have been presented a check for over $3,567.