I hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer. I wanted to give you an update on what your local Health Commission had worked on in August.
The Public Health Accreditation Board has reviewed our documents and provided us with action steps to complete within a one year time frame.
Vaccine For Children/Vaccine For Adults
Our Public Health Nurse and Administrative Assistant have worked hard to get us signed up as a provider of vaccines for children and adults who meet strict federal and state guidelines for people with no or limited insurance. These vaccine clinics are held twice a month currently. We have also ordered some measles vaccine in case we have any potential measles outbreaks in our community. We worked closely with the Visiting Nurses Association to prepare for a measles vaccination clinic if needed based on the possibility of more measles cases in the Lakewood/Monmouth County area.
The vaccines are provided free of charge from the US government and we charge an administrative fee ($12.00 per shot per child and $24 per shot per adult) for the vaccines. We monitor the vaccine refrigerator temperatures twice a day per State and Fed requirements. We are also working with some of our area Pediatricians who have lost their Vaccines for Children program approval and providing direct vaccinations to their clients who meet Federal and State guidelines.
This summer, we experienced an increase in cases of Cyclospora (a food borne disease). New Jersey had 80, compared to 8 cases in 2018. The US Centers for Disease Control has identified Basil as the likely source for this multi-state outbreak. The required case investigation form for this disease is nine pages in length and very detailed. As usual, we continue to have numerous Lyme Disease cases. We are planning to apply for a State Health Department grant that would help to support the expansion of communicable disease case management.
Bathing Beaches/ Summer Camps
The Staff continues to update our public beaches/pools/summer camps on safety and communicable disease prevention efforts. Our Registered Environmental Health Specialists receive water quality data from the NJDEP and other sources on a weekly basis. We want our residents and the public to enjoy a safe and fun summer. So far the water quality of the beaches this season has been excellent with only one set of closures.
Unfortunately, we had the death of a Ewing Township teenager at the Spring Lake beach over the Labor Day weekend. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends following this horrible tragedy. Riptide is indicated as the cause of this tragedy. We are required to file a death investigation report with the NJ Department of Health.
Lead-Based Paint/Elevated Childhood Lead Poisonings
After three years of extensive work/advocacy/collaborations with the State Legislature and public health partners, we laid the groundwork to obtain $10 million, state-wide for use in reducing the cost of municipal lead prevention in NJ. With the new State budget in place, we are beginning the next phase of State Grant funding for this program that involves our Public Health Nurse and Registered Environmental Health Specialists (REHS inspectors). The funding for this fiscal year will be approximately $15,232. We have been averaging 15 cases of elevated lead poisoning a year.
As always, we work very closely with the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division. We act in conjunction to notify you if there are any incidents of West Nile Virus and mosquito spraying in your towns. We also have plenty of tick prevention signs. If you need them, please contact us.
Vaping (Adverse Effects) – NJ Health Department
With 500+ documented cases of vaping adverse effects (including 7 apparent deaths), the NJ Department of Health is now requiring all local health departments to investigate any incident of adverse effects caused by vaping. On August 29th and 30th our Public Health Nurse worked with Monmouth Medical Center to investigate a case of adverse physical effects (lungs, weight loss, pneumonia, etc.) caused by the alleged vaping of marijuana laced “street” e-cigarettes. Since the patient is a minor, we had an extensive discussion about this situation with one of the parents. The parent wanted to give us the remainder of the e-cigarette. We referred her to her local Police Department since we do not have any way to hold or store marijuana products. We completed the State forms and reported to the NJ Department of Health. The purchases of tobacco and vaping products are prohibited for anyone under 21 years of age. I strongly recommend Police/State Police and NJDOH involvement in these vaping situations as most local health departments do not have the ability to collect evidence.
One of our towns had discussed this issue thoroughly and the Chief of Police has agreed to accept illegal e-cigarettes at the Police Department with no fear of an arrest for possession or any other penalties. I would like to thank the Town Administrator, Governing Body, Police Chief and the Local Board of Health for helping to address this situation.
Our project team consisting of the Office Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, Health Educator and me has been working tirelessly with our website provider on many updates and enhancements. The staff is currently reviewing and accepting internal feedback on specific sections of the website to make sure that we have the latest information. We are making significant progress and have a proposed goal to unveil the new site by September 16th.
Visiting Nursing Services
We continue to meet with our nursing contractor Visiting Nurses Association to discuss the elimination of town’s direct contracts (in most cases) and incorporation into one agreement between the MCRHC and Visiting Nurses Association. We have been reviewing the provided nursing health statistics for each town. In a hybrid fashion, we utilize both the services of VNA and our in-house nurse to provide municipal nursing services as required by the State Health Department performance standards. Our CFO is currently reviewing the financial aspects of the service. As an update, the Visiting Nurse Association will be acquired by Bayada Home Health Care. In discussion with VNA officials, there are no planned changes to their provision of public health service delivery to the local health departments.
Yours in Health
David A. Henry
David A. Henry, MPH, HO