Today, as we celebrate Christmas Eve, please grant me the liberty to share how God has blessed the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) so it could bless others in 2017. Scripture makes it clear that God blesses us not so we can live with greed, but so we can bless others. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 – … God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work. God loves a cheerful giver. When He sees that someone is giving freely out of love, God blesses them more. We at the MCHD are blessed to be a blessing. God has given our staff passion and different talents to do work for the benefit of others.
Meigs County voters blessed the MCHD with passing a one mil replacement tax levy, which commenced in 2017. Thank you, voters, for sowing that seed! With careful fiscal management and the anticipated increased tax collection, the Board of Health (BOH) was able to revise its salary schedule. After six years, we finally were able to increase staff salaries making them more comparable to those of local health departments in surrounding counties. We also were able to implement an Employee Recognition Policy to show appreciation to our 18 staff members for the hard work and dedication they have given the residents of Meigs County throughout the years.
According to the Bible, when you sow you reap. So, how did the MCHD pay forward its blessings in 2017? Here are just a few ways:
1. We were able to obtain a grant from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to complete the Meigs County Community Health Improvement Plan, which will be used to guide collaborative work toward addressing five priority areas of concern for Meigs County: Substance Abuse, Maternal and Child Health, Workforce Development, Chronic Illness and Healthy Behaviors.
2. We were able to work on advancing our State-mandated requirement to apply for and achieve national accreditation to continue to be eligible for ODH funding (which currently amounts to about $500,000). We applied to the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2017 and have more work to do toward the goal of being accredited by 7/1/2020.
3. We were able to maintain WIC participant benefits at the current level because of our devoted and caring team working together following a budget decrease and other challenges.
4. We received grant funds to assist eligible Meigs County residents with needed repairs/replacement of failing household sewage treatment systems.
5. We initiated in-County ServSafe (food safety) classes required for operators of food service operations and retail food establishments to prevent food-borne illness in our local restaurants, service stations, schools, etc. and we were able to offer these classes at a discounted rate for Meigs County operators.
6. We received a grant to provide mosquito control activities throughout the County to prevent/limit vector-borne illnesses. We also hosted a community educational event, featuring expert speakers, on tick safety.
7. We were able to work with a local church to provide needed home modifications for a child and his family receiving help via the Children With Medical Handicaps Program.
8. We assisted eligible students benefiting from the County’s three educational districts by supporting their Blessings in a Backpack/Weekend Food Programs via our Maternal and Child Health Program.
9. We were able to assist with modifying or establishing recreational areas to provide residents with more opportunities for physical activity throughout County.
10. We were able to obtain an economic development grant to establish a Community Health Worker (CHW) Program to assist high-risk Type 2 Diabetic patients in the County. We hired a CHW to provide care coordination to help patients manage their disease and to prevent amputations and other medical consequences that can result from Diabetes.
11. We provided families in need with a safe sleep surface for their infants/toddlers to prevent/reduce infant mortality via our Cribs for Kids program.
12. We continued to provide free training and doses of Narcan to residents/law enforcement/EMS staff via a grant to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths.
13. We continued to participate in local coalition efforts to meet resident needs and to promote residents’ health and well-being.
14. We participated in local emergency preparedness efforts, planned exercises, maintained the BluMed mobile hospital and coordinated volunteers and efforts of Meigs County’s Medical Reserve Corp.
15. We hosted interns and students from area academic institutions to assist them with their educational and clinical endeavors.
16. We worked with The Ohio State University (OSU), Ohio University (OU) and Rio Grande University on research projects and workforce development efforts.
17. We continued to host the OSU and OU Heritage College of Medicines Community Health Programs mobile units to offer breast and cervical cancer screenings.
18. We hosted a free community event during Nov.: National Diabetes Awareness Month to provide education and health screenings.
19. We assisted with coordination of a health fair for all County employees.
20. We assisted residents in need with referrals for and transportation to vision services, immunizations, tobacco cessation, head lice screenings, communicable disease follow up.
In addition, the following special blessing occurred in late 2017 and I was fortunate enough to play a part: I serve as a Member of the Meigs County Cancer Initiative (MCCI). The MCHD has a memorandum of understanding with MCCI to coordinate MCCI’s Transportation Assistance Program. Through my interaction with cancer survivors, they often confide their needs and concerns with me. During the annual Meigs County Cancer Survivor Dinner, I spoke about a local breast cancer survivor whose cancer had metastasized and is inoperable. As a result, the survivor had to quit her job and was awaiting disability benefits while being helped by family members as they could. While fighting this disease for her life, she was struggling to pay some routine impending bills. A dinner attendee was convicted and approached her church about helping the survivor. A very generous Meigs County church gave $1,000 to make this cancer survivor’s journey easier. How blessed I was to be able to notify the survivor and to hear the relief and excitement in her voice. In my opinion, Meigs residents are blessed to live, work and play in close-knit communities.
In conclusion, you can be a blessing to others by speaking kind words, volunteering in your community, giving to charity, sharing things, giving food, sharing your testimony, praying for someone in need, listening to someone, and, as we have seen, by supporting public health efforts. There is always an opportunity to bless someone.
Courtney C. Midkiff is the administrator of the Meigs County Health Department.