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Diseases, budget, ethics board discussed at Monroe County Board of Health meeting


Monroe County Health Department administrator Penny Caudill speaks July 23 in the Monroe County Health Department. The meeting discussed an ethics board and disease intervention. Alex Deryn

The Monroe County Health Department wants to become an accredited public health institution recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board. But before that can happen, the department has to show it can appropriately discuss ethical dilemmas.

A new ethics board was discussed at the Monroe County Board of Health meeting Tuesday night as well as disease demographics, art and more. The board meets quarterly to discuss disease prevention and public health.

Some board members were unsure about the creation of a separate ethics committee. Suggested ideas included a small number of board members serving on an ethics committee in addition to the board and involving a member outside of the medical community, as well as a lawyer, on the hypothetical committee. 

"This is not a decision-making body, it doesn't say yes or no," chairperson Mark Norrell said. "It's a deliberating committee."

The board is waiting for additional information on accreditation requirements before making a decision.

IU Health licensed practical nurse Sally Hudson came to the meeting to read the Monroe County Public Health Clinic's report. Hudson said there have been 54 new cases of hepatitis A in Monroe County since an outbreak was declared November 2017. 

The clinic has organized 33 hepatitis A vaccination clinics and 14 back-to-school shot clinics for 5th graders, Hudson said. It is planning to organize additional clinics. 

Hudson also addressed another Bloomington outbreak: mumps. She said the outbreak, which started this spring at IU, is over, and a significant percentage of the 53 people infected had been vaccinated for mumps twice. 

Hudson said someone who has undergone the two recommended vaccinations for mumps still has a 12% change of obtaining the disease

Norrell said men made up about two-thirds of those infected in the Bloomington outbreak. A large number of mumps cases originated at an IU fraternity, but not everyone affected was an IU student. 

Monroe County Health Department administrator Penny Caudill spoke about the health department and Indiana Recovery Alliance's weekly community clean-up walks. Volunteers search for abandoned syringes on the walks. Caudill said one way they choose walking sites is by using data from phone calls requesting disposal in a specific area.

"They've come back with more trash than they have syringes," Caudill said. 

Norrell asked if the walks could become a community service opportunity. Caudill said she would look into seeing if it were possible. 

Finally, Caudill said the Monroe County Health Department will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the reveal of the "Ramp Up Awareness" mural on Aug 2. The mural intends to promote awareness of public health services such as the public health clinic and Futures Family Planning Clinic. 

Small changes were made to the 2020 budget with a unanimous vote. The health department will seek approval on its budget from the Monroe County Council. 

The tentative date for the next Board of Health meeting is Oct. 1.

CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the accreditation-granting institution and the budget-approving council. The IDS regrets these errors.

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