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September 22, 2021

Board of Health reviews results from survey on Health Department services

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Health on Tuesday evening received results of a survey about care delivered by the Health Department in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The survey, which included mostly positive feedback, was conducted in June and sought to gain input from patients who use all services offered by the Health Department. The department received 303 completed surveys covering various service areas.

The Health Department offers dental care to children through its Smile Center. Of the 78 surveys conducted for Smile Center patients (51 in English and 27 in Spanish), 71% felt the quality of care received was excellent and 92% were completely satisfied with their visit, while 100% indicated they would return to the Health Department for care needs.

Of the 103 surveys completed by patients who use the Health Department’s care management, 100% reported they were satisfied.

For the Environmental Health Department, which conducts food and lodging inspections and soil evaluations for septic tank installations, 38 surveys were completed. Of those surveys, 89.47% rated the quality of service as excellent and 10.53% rated it as good. The department also received positive feedback about changes it has recently made in regards to increasing staffing.

Rowan County Health Director Alyssa Harris reported that the Environmental Health Department’s backlog for on-site soil inspections is currently one to two weeks. Environmental Health Director Adrian Pruett said such a short wait time is especially notable because the backlog for inspections at this time last year was between nine and 10 weeks. Board of Health Chair Dari Caldwell commended the turnaround.

“That is absolutely phenomenal because as some of our board members probably know, and maybe not everybody does, those inspections really play a big role in people’s ability to build and for projects to go forward,” Caldwell said. “When builders get held up because we are delayed in inspections, they sort of go berserk. (Pruett) has been able to calm those waters and get those back down.”

The department’s ability to cut down on the backlog can largely be attributed to the fact that it is now at full staffing capacity for on-site inspectors and has only one vacancy for a food and lodging inspector. The department filled its vacant positions with the help of incentives authorized by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. 

For the Health Department family health and prenatal services, 109 surveys were collected, with 89% of patients saying they would return to the department for their health care needs. 

The Health Department was unable to gather enough feedback from patients who use its women, infant and children services. In-person delivery of those services has paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and only three of 150 surveys sent out virtually were completed. 

In other meeting business:

• The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic once again commanded much of the discussion during the meeting. In addition to providing board members with the most recent case and vaccination numbers in the county, Harris discussed the Health Department’s vaccination clinics and outlined a silver lining in that the outbreaks at congregate care facilities were not as deadly as they were before the vaccine distribution started. 

Harris said the Health Department will continue to encourage people to get vaccinated and noted that 49% of Rowan Countians have received their first dose. Board member Carla Rose encouraged the Health Department to highlight young adults who have made the choice to be vaccinated in any vaccine marketing campaigns.

Board member Dr. Amy Wilson commented that the number of at-home COVID-19 tests people are purchasing from stores means that there are likely more tests being taken than the numbers compiled by the state and county.

• Board of Health member Corrie Connolly suggested the creation of a subcommittee to address the unprescribed use of ivermectin in Rowan County to treat COVID-19. Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice and some skin conditions, but the Food and Drug Administration says it hasn’t been proven effective against COVID-19. The ivermectin subcommittee will report back to the Board of Health at its next meeting in October.

• Harris previewed the launch of Healthy Rowan’s “Rowan Moves” campaign, which officially begins on Oct. 2. The campaign will encourage Rowan County residents to get “up and moving” in their everyday lives. As part of the launch, Healthy Rowan will be partnering with Salisbury City Parks and Recreation to co-host the Salisbury Open Street event on Oct. 3, pending COVID-19 conditions at the time. The event will be from 2-6 p.m. at Salisbury City Park. In response to COVID-19, this event will be outside, socially distanced and attendees will be heavily encouraged to wear masks. The first 200 individuals to register for the campaign on the Rowan Moves website will receive a free one-week membership to either the YMCA, The Forum, or SoFul Yoga and Wellness.

• Karla Aldridge, financial services supervisor, delivered the department’s financial report for August. Overall, the department is “lagging behind” in spending. While that could be seen as a good thing, Harris warned that it could reflect understaffing or lack of services being provided. Board of Health member Mary Ponds encouraged the department to “make use” of the funds it has for fear that they would be reverted at the end of the fiscal year. The Board of Health also passed several budget realignments and $115,000 for COVID-19 reopening of schools liaison.

• The Post Overdose Response Team is launching a new website this week and has overhauled its logo. The team, which focuses on preventing overdose deaths in Rowan County, is also currently hiring for the position of temporary peer support specialist. The Health Department distributed 100 doses of narcan to the Salisbury Police Department because officers are seeing an increase in the number of overdoses in the city and are oftentimes the first responders.

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