PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Oct. 26, 2015) — A member of the county health board said Monday that he believes health department employees should be forced to take vacation time rather than being allowed to cash out their excess leave time.
Board member Joe Krill said continuing to allow employees to cash out their leave will cost the district about $10,000 as an annual benefit, and while the board is showing a surplus this year, it would be the first time in half a decade for the district to show a surplus.
"If we keep handing out candy and the candy jar gets empty, somebody's got to fill it, and it's not fair to the taxpayers in this case,” Krill said. “That's my job as a board member and sometimes I have to say 'no.'"
Responding to board members and employees who said forcing people to take leave could cause office problems with getting work done, Krill said the health department should hire part-timers at a lower wage if needed to avoid people getting far behind when they return to the office.
“Just because we had one good year after ten bad years… we shouldn’t automatically start handing out the candy,” Krill said.
Other board members didn’t agree. A motion to allow employees to cash out unused leave passed by a 3 to 1 margin with Krill the only person voting “no.”
Despite Krill’s concern, Executive Director Deborah Teel-Baker said the health department’s financial picture is doing well. She reported that since last year, home health has made an improvement of about $122,000 with a year-to-date income statement of $62,816 and WIC has made an improvement of $25,000 but is still $12,013 in the red year-to-date, and public health/environmental public health is showing $38,267 surplus year-to-date, with an agency-wide income statement showing a $81,331 surplus.
Home health director Elaine Clark said that program is on track to have more admissions by the end of October or early next month than for all of last year.
Expenses continue to increase for insurance, but Teel-Baker said the increase could have been worse. She reported that Coventry health insurance rates rose from $512 per month to $639 per month while another plan, Lifestyle, will cost $487.33 per month with a $1,500 deductible which the district had before and which employees liked. Baker recommended going with that plan for a dozen eligible employees and board members agreed with her recommendation.
Board chairman Larry Helms shared Krill’s financial concerns and said he wants Clark and other program directors to keep the board appraised of financial issues.
“If something goes negative we always do an analysis of what went wrong; when we have something positive we ought to also do an analysis of that, see what went right and keep doing it,” Helms said.
In other business:
• Public Health Nurse Patti McClendon said the nurses still have 400 doses left of flu shots from 500 obtained, and had been expecting many people to get a flu shot at the Waynesville schools but a recent bomb threat at the school seemed to have dramatically cut the number of people getting shots. The district has been able to give free flu shot clinics at Laquey, Swedeborg and Waynesville, she said, but not other districts yet.
“It’s a hard thing to get into the schools,” McClendon said. “People seem to think it’s a liability to the school.”
• WIC program manager Brenda Warner said the WIC program now has new foods including wheat pasta. However, she’s noticing that parents are not getting on WIC until late in pregnancy and leaving WIC shortly after ending formula feeding so it appears people are joining WIC solely to get baby formula. The Waynesville branch office had a WIC caseload of 1,406 and the main Crocker office had a caseload of 166.
• Environmental Public Health manager Karen Wall reported four new food establishments: Ole Time Sweet Shoppe in Richland, inspected Sept. 3; Java Express in St. Robert, inspected Sept. 22; Mobile Thai Kitchen in St. Robert, inspected Sept. 29; and Ichiban Steak House and Sushi Bar in St. Robert, inspected Sept. 30.
• Wall said a computer program intended to automate home health reports has “just been a nightmare.” To litigate the cost for the program will require a lawsuit in California, she said, and other districts including the Boone County Health Department in Columbia have decided to cut their losses and just stop paying rather than suing.
“You guys need to send it to the BBB and the Attorney General,” Krill said. “If everybody just drops it and walks away from it nothing is going to be done.”
Wall said she’ll talk to the state attorney general’s office as requested by Krill.
Alternative programs do exist but they have fewer functions, according to Teel-Baker, who served as the health department’s information technology director before promotion to her current role.
“There is a free one but it doesn’t have a module for lodging or day care, though those could be developed,” she said.
“It’s important to warn others,” Helms said. “It’s hard to do due diligence on someone when you don’t have a lot of references and not a lot of information.”
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