Press-Republican

August 20, 2013

Board members dedicated to health, community

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County Board of Health members need a dedication to help people in need but must also have a firm determination to make decisions that are best for the community as a whole.

“Our mission is to promote, protect and ensure the health and well-being of all people and to provide access to quality and affordable services,” said member Lynn Howard. 

“I try to keep that in mind as something I want to strive to do.”

Howard, who has been serving on the board for more than 30 years, was a nurse at CVPH Medical Center specializing in coronary care and intensive care when she first accepted the position in 1980.

She would eventually take a position with the Advocacy and Resource Center and focus her skills on helping people with special needs, giving the Board of Directors experience in that specialty area.

“Being a nurse, I have always had an interest in the health of the community,” she said. “I see my role on the board as an opportunity to provide that help.”

MANY NATURAL LINKS

Ginny Hay recently retired from her position as an infection-control specialist at CVPH, and within a year, she accepted an open seat on the Board of Health.

“From my experience with infection control, there were many natural links to public health,” she said, noting the role both the hospital and the Health Department play regarding tuberculosis and HIV infection.

Hay’s other connection to public health was through a committee she served on that involved CVPH, Clinton County Emergency Services and the Health Department, planning emergency response for various crisis situations that could arise in the community

Dr. Jonathan Beach is one of the newest members of the Board of Health, appointed as liaison to the Clinton County Legislature.

“It was a natural choice with my background in medicine,” said Beach, the medical director of Urgicare in Plattsburgh and Emergency Services for Clinton County. 

“My primary role as the legislative representative is to keep them informed (of current issues in public health).”

REVISED SANITARY CODE

Much of the board’s time is spent on regulatory issues, particularly in the daily work of the Health Department’s Environmental Division, on such situations as nuisance-animal calls, public water and sewer and the oversight of residential subdivisions and construction of new homes.

Board members were also actively involved in a major revision of the county’s sanitary code, first written in 1986 and revamped in 2008 to meet updated needs.

“Our job is two-fold,” Hay said. “First, we are a sounding board for the Health Department, to let them know how we feel about the decision-making process and to make recommendations. 

“We have a lot of different perspectives that lead to productive discussion.”

EDUCATION

Enforcement of the county code is the board’s other top priority. Although the Health Department often has to make quick decisions whenever a violation endangers the health of residents or the environment, all regulatory action will eventually be discussed at the board meetings.

“We also want to make sure that we focus on educating the public,” Beach said, noting that the only way to successfully improve the health of a community is by correcting problems through education.

The addition of two business people on the board has also expanded its viewpoint, Howard noted.

“They ask questions that I’d never think to ask,” she said.

Board of Health meetings are held at the Health Department’s Conference Room on the second floor of the Old Court House on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh. 

Email Jeff Meyers:jmeyers@pressrepublican.com