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Leadership Owen County: Leaders explore health care

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By Dan Herndon and Sharon Sullivan
For the News-Herald

Leadership Owen County Class of 2014 participants had the opportunity to review several of the health-care resources available to residents on April 2.
After convening at the Owen County Extension Office, Judy Hetterman led the caravan to Three Rivers District Office.
The three rivers referred to in the agency’s name are the Ohio, Kentucky and Licking rivers which touch the agency’s service counties of Owen, Pendleton, Grant and Gallatin. 
Three Rivers, which has an annual budget of $5.5 million provides numerous and diverse services to its communities.
Professional staff duties include education and testing for lead based paint in older structures, immunizations, pre-natal referrals, community health education regarding nutrition, smoking cessation, weight loss  and numerous other healthy living and disease prevention topics, inspections to enforce regulations impacting restaurant food preparation and hygiene, home food processing for commercial sale, temporary food vendors, sanitation at mobile home and RV parks, septic tank installation and maintenance, training programs for professional food handlers, hotel and motel sanitation  and, if this was not enough, radon testing in home and institutions.
The district office also has the responsibility of inspecting for food safety at schools, day-care facilities and youth camps.  The agency has a major role in providing home health care to seniors, waiver services and respite care for caregivers who provide care for the ill and/or elderly in the home environment. More than 1.6 million of the annual budget is committed to providing home-health services.
Georgia Heise, the dynamic and visionary director, has led the agency to be recognized at the national level as a leader in providing public health services.
Heise identifies diminishing funding and increasing costs, particularly for professional staff, as posing future problems for continuing provision of high quality services to the service area.
Currently, the agency is sponsoring a weight management challenge to residents which dangles cash prize incentives before enthusiastic participants. The last session of this popular program resulted in Owen County being lighter by 600 pounds.
The Three Rivers District Health Department office, located just up the road on Highway 22, provides immunizations for tetanus and hepatitis B and annual influenza at no charge to county residents. 
Physicals, excluding sport and CDL, can be provided as well as education and information regarding family planning, cancer screening and participation in WIC, a nutrition program for pregnant and new moms.
Another critical service provided at this location is that of an environmental enforcement officer.
Rachel Cobb is the brave and knowledgeable professional who is charged with regulating food-service permits and the enforcement of nuisance ordinances affection septic tanks, discarded tires and neglected household trash. She also is responsible for investigating dog bites and coordinating rabies detection and treatment protocol.
On a more pleasant note, she assures that Owen County’s popular “pot luck” suppers are not in jeopardy as long as an event is not advertised to the general public.
A tour of the New Horizons Medical Center personally guided by the irrepressible Bernie Poe demonstrated the modern medical resources available to clients and patients of the facility. 
The radiology equipment has been recently upgraded and according to Poe is “state of the art.”
He pointed out that the fine nursing, physical therapy and respiratory staff can provide inpatient rehabilitation services close to home for post-surgical patients for both the short and long-term duration. 
New Horizons makes every effort to provide a personal touch to care. Did you know that you can send a get well wish to a New Horizons patient by e-mail from your home computer which will be personally delivered by staff? The service can be accessed free at ww.nhhsonline.com.
In addition to emergency, acute inpatient and rehabilitative care, the Center also provides outpatient surgery, cardiac services such as stress tests, EKG, @-D Echo and halter monitoring. Respiratory and laboratory services as well as infusion and injection therapies can be arranged. Perhaps most notable is the open, friendly and caring attitude presented by staff.
The final visit of the day was a delightful one.
The Owenton Center, a Genesis Heath Care facility, provides both short and long-term nursing and rehabilitative care under the medical direction of Christy Edwards Johnson, M.D.  Activity Director Theresa Perry and Director of Admissions Pamela Smoot guided the parade through the comfortable and beautifully decorated facility, stopping to introduce curious residents as they approached us.
The center’s reputation for “good home cooking’ was confirmed with the provision of a voluptuous dessert table featuring fresh fruit and strawberry shortcake.  Long-term care close to home and caregivers is a valued resource  in the Owen community.
With respect to health care, Owen County has for its size, abundant resources. Health care needs across the life span can be met for the most part, close to home.