TB outbreak has cost county nearly $31KWORTHINGTON — Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) has been awarded a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC to assist with managing the tuberculosis outbreak in Nobles County.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) has been awarded a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC to assist with managing the tuberculosis outbreak in Nobles County.
However, board members agreed at a meeting Wednesday afternoon that the funds would be better directed toward offsetting tuberculosis investigation costs.
The original grant proposal asked for about $78,000, which would help pay for investigation costs, including a bilingual registered nurse to deal with TB treatment for an 18-month period. Though the nurse part of the grant proposal was accepted, it comes with a catch — if the NRCHS accepts the money, the CDC would not fund any of the NRCHS expenses for January through July of this year.
The nurse position would be a difficult one to fill, said board members, and the limited job description would make it hard to have enough work for the nurse for the proposed period.
“I just think it’s too late in the game to have any position be beneficial,” said NRCHS administrator Brad Meyer. “By the time we get the nurse trained and everything, our medical therapy clients are pretty much going to be gone or off our case load.”
Instead, the board decided to renegotiate with the CDC, requesting that the funds granted be used toward the cost of the TB investigation. Human resources, training, mileage, supplies and X-rays since the outbreak cost the agency roughly $31,000 from April through July.
Public health nurse Barb Navara gave a report on the current tuberculosis situation in Nobles County. There are currently 13 children with both latent and active cases under direct observational therapy; four adults with active cases; 93 adults with latent cases who are being checked once a month; and 11 pending cases.
The board also received a set of guidelines for dealing with future outbreaks to be used in conjunction with Nobles County’s Safety Program policies. The Intra-Agency Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis guidelines state, among other things, that NRCHS employees who have a potential exposure to M. tuberculosis should notify their immediate supervisor as soon as possible and arrange for a screening.
“Due to having staff exposed to TB clients who came in, we decided it’d be nice to have a protocol,” Meyer said, “Now we have something on paper.”
In other business:
* Meyer informed the board that MDH has updated its mass casualty trailers, adding a total of 50 new cots. A 10-bed mobile emergency room is also now available for statewide use.
* The Jasper nuisance house has been demolished.
* Navara said the Women Infants and Children program will now offer more fruits and vegetables. The “Fresh Choices” program will begin in mid-2009 and will also include food vouchers that can be used at farmers markets and other locations outside of the supermarket.
* Approved the job description of a community outreach worker position. The worker would be on a level 12 pay scale and need a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, fluency in English and another language as determined by agency needs and a valid driver’s license. Also approved the Worthington Regional Area Foundation business plan grant request to fund a community outreach worker.