By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Health agencies in Clinton County have exciting new programs and growth on the horizon as the new year approaches. Representatives from local health organizations shared reports on growth and opportunities at the Clinton County Board of Health meeting Thursday.
Genesis VNA along with the Clinton County Visiting Nurses Foundation vaccinated 1,841 Clinton elementary students through the flu-free flu shot program. A new nurse family partnership program starts in January, which will involve two nurses, one from Clinton County and one from Scott County, partnering with social workers from Lutheran Health Services.
“We’re starting from scratch,” Community Health Manager Michele Cullen said. “I’m excited and nervous.”
The maternal health program for at-risk teens has seen growth this year with 17 enrolled compared to last year with 10 enrolled. The goal of the program is to decrease teen pregnancies and help get proper health care for babies born to young mothers.
Hillcrest Family Services will begin administering their new nutrition plan in the upcoming year. Health educators hope to fight childhood obesity by focusing on portion control. They plan to give out special portion control plates to hundreds of children to better educate them and their parents about offering more variety in foods served. Hillcrest employees are also working on a breastfeeding action plan to assure that businesses are being friendly to new mothers. The family health organization has also been coping with budget cuts which will continue into 2013.
The Area Substance Abuse Council will be conducting annual tobacco assessments at gas stations throughout the county within the next few months. Prevention Specialist Maribeth Bousman is now at the Jackson County office full time. Employees educated 95 middle school students on tobacco, the Blue Zones Project and more at a special leadership program.
Women’s Health Services has seen an increase in appointments for HIV testing, something the organization continues to promote at various events. In October the annual site visit was conducted, giving the practitioners some recommendations for improvements. The Teen Success Program that kicked off last spring will continue into the new year. The board approved an HIV testing bill for the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 and a Teen Success Program bill for the first half of fiscal year 2013 to be paid out on Jan. 7.
The Board of Health plans to meet Jan. 10 and the financial committee plans to meet prior to discuss the budget due at the end of January.