By Steve Woodhouse
For the first time in at least three months, every member of the Marion County Board of Health was in attendance for its regular meeting last week.
One of the items on the board's agenda was the approval of a grant application to the Iowa Department of Public Health, but board members were concerned that they did not have a chance to review the application prior to the meeting. Board member Karen Goff asked Public Health Director Kim Dorn if they could review applications prior to voting on them.
“I think that would be very difficult to do,” Dorn said. The IDPH has a quick turn-around for grants, and approval was needed at the meeting to meet the IDPH deadline.
The grant in question was for $11,000 for a new immunization billing system. Funds from it are expected to pay for hardware, a credit card payment system, scanners and software. Goff said it is important to know what the grants are for prior to being asked to make a decision. Dr. Brian Schaeffer agreed with Goff that there are grants the board should be able to review.
Board Chair Pat Van Zante said she believes the board is supposed to trust the director and department heads to make decisions and recommendations. It is not the board's role to handle day-to-day decisions, she said.
Van Zante had given approval to staff to proceed prior to the board meeting. The issue was on the board's agenda for April, but an assessment necessary for the grant was not completed. If the board had chosen against seeking the grant, the application would have been pulled.
The Board of Health also approved an application for a lead prevention grant. Lead poisoning can lead to larger problems later in life. The grant is for approximately $3,200.