Government and Health Care

Health Department on county agenda this week

Commissioners are expected to elect Koorndyk and Saalfeld as new leadership team.

December 29, 2012
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After Kent County commissioners choose their new leaders Thursday for the next year, they are also likely to approve two appropriations for funding that will add more than $100,000 to the Kent County Health Department’s current budget.

The first appropriation resolution comes from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which has awarded the local department an additional $103,195 in grants. Most of the funds — $38,572 — would be allocated to the Women, Infants and Children Program.

In addition, the department’s HIV Expanded Testing Program and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program would receive $28,918 and $25,705, respectively, from the grants.

Deputy Administrative Health Officer Bill Anstey said the caseload for the BCCCP has increased by 265 clients, and the HIV testing program was extended for three months through the end of last December. The health department’s fiscal year began Oct. 1; the revenue for the HIV program was to extend it for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year.

The remaining $10,000 in grant money would allow the department to consider the possibility of billing private insurers for services for which the department currently only charges Medicare and Medicaid, which could result in more traffic to the department.

“They would get a reimbursement back from the carrier,” said Anstey of those with private insurance.

The second appropriations resolution is a $10,000 grant from Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. The grant would allow the department to participate in a research study that hopes to improve the prenatal care currently offered to pregnant woman insured by Medicaid.

Anstey said the study involves a partnership with area providers. Most of the MSU grant money to the county will go toward covering the wages and benefits of a full-time public health nurse supervisor.

On another public health note, the county is making progress on merging the department’s clinics in Kentwood and Wyoming.

County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio said a tentative agreement has been reached with Kentwood that would have the county buy the city’s former library building at 4700 Kalamazoo Ave. SE for $300,000. The building has about 16,000 square feet of space on roughly 6.5 acres. The county would close its location in Wyoming, which will be served by a Cherry Street Health Services clinic on 28th Street SW, and consolidate both operations in Kentwood.

Linda Howell, the county’s assistant counsel, said Michigan Community Dental Clinics, which delivers public health dental services at 21 locations in the state, is expected to be part of the new county clinic and has inspected the Kentwood building. It’s expected to cost the county about $2.5 million to merge the clinics. Commissioners have to approve the move before it can go forward.

It’s all but certain commissioners will choose current Commission Vice Chairman Dan Koorndyk as their new chairman for 2013, while Commissioner Jim Saalfeld is expected to be elected vice chairman. Both Koorndyk and Saalfeld are Republicans, retaining the 15-4 majority they’ve held on the 19-member board since the 2010 election.

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