Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

Funding cut for lead testing is minimal

By STEPH TAHTINEN, Mt. Pleasant News | Jul 26, 2013

Although grant money for the lead program has been cut, it is not as bad as anticipated.

“We had considerable concerns about how the funding for this was going to go. We anticipate it being cut possibly significantly,” Community Health Director Travis Johnson told the Henry County Board of Health on Wednesday. “We did take a cut, but not nearly what we thought we might.”

The funding was only cut by $433. In fiscal year 2013, Henry County received $7,212, and for fiscal year 2014 it will receive $6,779.

“We can still continue the service and operate it effectively at this level,” said Johnson.

The grant for the lead program works by reimbursing the public health department for work done to test lead levels and follow up when there are elevated levels.

“They give a certain dollar figure per service,” said Johnson.

With the decrease in funding, Johnson estimated that the public health department will have to cover less than $1,000 in staff time that will not be funded by the grant.

“If we have a case (of a child with an elevated lead level) like we did this year, we ran about $800 over, but that was when we had a case. We’ve only had one case in the last two years,” said Johnson.

An elevated lead level means the child’s blood contained at least 10 micrograms of lead in a deciliter. Once a home is identified as being a lead hazard, it is put on a list where the home remains until the lead has been safely eliminated. There are 31 homes on Henry County’s list. Each of these property owners receives a letter from the department once a year.

The board of health also:

• Approved the contract for the Local Health Public Services grant. This $66,776 grant will fund homemaker services, public health services and board of health operations. This is the same amount that the county received last year. The scope of services is also the same.

• Approved the Fiscal Year 2014 Grants to Counties program, which funds the county’s well program, such as water tests, well closures, well reconstruction. For this year, the grant funding is $30,612, an increase of over $6,000 from last year’s amount of just under $24,000.

• Approved applying for an EMS Systems Development grant to help pay for training, training equipment and continuing education classes for the county’s EMS personnel. Johnson estimated that, if approved, the grant would be $5,000 or less.

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