STD Task Force Considered

In order to address the on-going, pervasive nature of sexually transmitted diseases and infections, Health Department Director Jason Tiller wants to start a task force. Procedures for doing so are outlined in the Saline County Commission’s Health Advisory Council by-laws. The HAC met Tuesday.

A syphilis outbreak in October has prompted the HD to consider providing more public health awareness of STDs in general. Tiller presented no new statistics at yesterday’s meeting. In December, Tiller said that the total number of lab confirmed cases of syphilis was 16.

Tiller hopes to ask appropriate individuals from the three unified school districts, St. John’s Academy, the private schools, and colleges to serve on the task force. National demographic information shows that women in their early twenties are more likely to get chlamydia and gonorrhea; the same sources suggest older white males are getting syphilis in increasing numbers.

Tiller is also working on a local health alert network to advise medical professionals of outbreaks. Tiller said the HD has placed information about STDs on CityGo buses. Drafts of posters were circulated; one suggested “Keep Calm and Get Tested”. Tiller is in the process of drafting 60 second public service messages that KSAL Radio will air.

Members talked specifically about a situation where an individual who had been referred to the HD for STD testing and had no ability to pay. S/he went to the HD and was told to call to schedule an appointment. Tiller said that when fully scheduled, the three nurses and nurse practitioner may already have their time fully committed to doing immunizations, performing well-woman checks, etc. While not knowing if they may have an STD can be deeply concerning to an individual, it is not a medical emergency.

Tiller discussed the status of four HD position vacancies. Earlier yesterday, the County Commission expressed a willingness to continue to provide grant matching funds for two Family Consultants, who work for the HD, but with Heartland Services. The HD also needs a registered nurse to head up its Home Health program; it is posted as a Home Health Coordinator.

Tiller addressed concerns about the possible need for extended hours and the use of Ryan White program funds.

County Commissioner John Price attended the meeting. He was appointed to serve on the HAC during the January 12th County Commission meeting.

The Council voted to allow public comment at their meetings if they had completed their discussions; a five minute block of time will be divided by the number of individuals seeking to speak.

Story by: Karen Shade for KSAL News

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