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Genesee and Orleans County Health Department

January 31, 2022 - 8:59pm

pettit_1.jpgThe voices of local health officials pleading with the powers that be in Albany to boost support for county programming are finally being heard.

That’s what Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, communicated to members of the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee today as he presented his department’s annual report.

“Ever since I’ve been in my position, we’ve been seeking an increase in Article 6 funding,” said Pettit, (pictured at right) speaking about the section of the Public Health Law that authorizes funding for core services delivered by local health departments. “But, if anything, that has deteriorated over the years as they’ve (state lawmakers) have made more things ineligible.”

Things seem to be changing for the better, Pettit said, as a result of his review of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2022-23 state budget.

“As this is our main funding stream … we continue to advocate for (increased funding) on an annual basis,” he said. “Now, (for) the first time the (governor) actually proposed increases in Article 6 funding in her executive budget.

“Again, this is fairly unique. It's never been in the executive budget; we've always lobbied the legislative side for when they put their packages together and it never makes it to the end. So, we are very happy to see that it is in on the front end. And it's fairly significant.”

Pettit said that Article 6 funding for full service health departments (such as Genesee-Orleans) is set to increase from $650,000 to $750,000, and money for “fringe reimbursement” also will go up.

“Public health through Article 6 has never received fringe reimbursement on any of our costs,” he advised. “It's all been local or written off on different grants. We’ve always advocated for it, but it's never been realized. So, the biggest thing in here is that it included up to 50 percent fringe reimbursed on any eligible expenses.”

Fifty percent translates to about $230,000 more to the county health department – bringing the total of state funding through Article 6 to around $1.1 million. Pettit said that kind of money will enable his department to implement key programs, such as lead immunization.

While not official yet, Pettit said he has attended advocacy days in Albany and “everyone we've talked to seemed very supportive; there doesn't seem any appetite of reducing it or taking it out.”

In addition, county health is set to receive $22,000 in performance incentive funds this year, which also can be used for any Article 6-eligible reimbursement, Pettit said.

Pettit touched upon several other aspects of the Genesee and Orleans department, which has been a merged agency for nearly 10 years:

-- Lead poisoning intervention: With the Centers for Disease Controls dropping the permitted levels to 3.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (and NYS expected to adopt that measure), more people will be eligible for the county's lead program.

Pettit said the department is receiving three grants for its lead program: $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, $250,000 from the CDC and $100,000 annually for five years from the Healthy Neighborhood program that is targeted for the City of Batavia.

“That’s … where you can go in and work with landlords and homeowners ..., making sure their house is safe – smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and those different things,” he said.

-- Cross Jurisdictional Services: The shared services agreement with Orleans County has worked well, both financially and programmatically, Pettit said.

“I think our response to the pandemic and how we've been able to leverage resources and just share our media and our … information that we share with the public -- our public interface with a website -- those have all allowed us to be more efficient and streamlined with our responses,” he said.

Financially, he said the CJS agreement (shared staffing and programming) has saved $275,000 a year over the 9 ½ years – which equals $2.5 million over that time.

Pettit said he hopes that both counties will receive full accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board by early next year.

-- Community health assessment: Every four years, local health departments are required to conduct a full community health assessment. In Genesee’s case, it is being done in conjunction with Orleans and Wyoming counties.

“This is a very collaborative process where we work with all the health systems in the counties, and we bring in our different community partners and other departments … to put together our assessment of basically what's going on in our community, as far as access to health care, other types of services that are available,” Pettit said.

A spinoff of that is the Community Health Improvement Plan that utilizes a survey to obtain the public’s views on health care, transportation and other vital health-related subjects.

-- Septic replacement program: More than $110,000 has been given to Genesee County residents in eligible areas in reimbursement costs for upgrading their septic systems, and that program will continue this year.

“These are along definitely some of our higher tributaries and creeks and streams in the county where, again, we don't want to see incidental discharge occurring,” Pettit said.

-- Adult use of cannabis: The state is ramping up its marijuana legalization guidelines, meaning that the health department will be called upon to provide educational information and, possibly, compliance checks along the lines of tobacco enforcement.

December 30, 2021 - 8:02pm

Press Release:

As 2021 comes to an end, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) want to wish you a healthy and Happy New Year! 2021 was a very busy year for the Health Department and a majority of staff efforts were focused on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, staff have also been working hard to ensure conditions in the community promote optimal health for the residents we serve. The Community Health Services staff have been working diligently at COVID- 19 testing and vaccination clinics, conducting COVID-19 case investigations and gathering/analyzing local COVID-19 data. In addition, staff have been educating on lead poisoning, investigating disease/foodborne illness outbreaks, providing guidance to pregnant moms and families with new babies as well as providing migrant health outreach to assist farm workers in both counties. Staff of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness team have been instrumental in planning, organizing and implementing the mass testing and vaccination clinics that occurred throughout the first six months of 2021. In the last six months, staff have been administering smaller testing and vaccination clinics that have been held weekly at the respective health departments. The Environmental Health Team members have been active in assisting with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics, but also assuring the community is safe from foodborne illnesses by conducting food inspections and issuing health permits to temporary food service establishments. Staff have also been inspecting septic systems, enforcing the NYS Clean Indoor Air Act, and offering free rabies clinics in both counties. The Lead Program continues to promote education and outreach to enhance lead poisoning prevention and promote testing of children to determine potential lead exposure. Through a federal The Genesee Orleans County Health Departments (GCHD/OCHD) uses 4 types of documents to provide important information to medical and public health professionals, and to other interested persons. Health Alerts convey information of the highest level of importance which warrants immediate action or attention from New York health providers, emergency responders, public health agencies, and/or the public. Health Advisories provide important information for a specific incident or situation, including that impacting neighboring states; may not require immediate action. Health Guidance contain comprehensive information pertaining to a particular disease or condition, and include recommendations, guidelines, etc. endorsed by GCHD/OCHD. Health Updates provide new or updated information on an incident or situation; can also provide information to update a previously sent Health Alert, Health Advisory, or Health Guidance; unlikely to require immediate action.
 

“Healthy People in a Healthy Community” grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), GO Health addresses lead-based paint hazards and other housing issues by funding health-related home repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to eligible homeowners and landlords. In October, GO Health was awarded a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the primary prevention of childhood lead poisoning to the entire GLOW region. Staff within our Children’s Programs spent the first half of 2021 assisting with COVID-19 contact tracing and vaccination clinics. In the second half of the year, Service Coordinators have been instrumental in assisting parents and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided education, case management, support and referrals to help children succeed and have a good quality of life. The Public Health Education team have worked diligently to provide up-to-date data and information related to COVID-19 to the community through press briefings, press releases, social media and website updates. GO Health launched their joint website this past spring, which is a centralized location for residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties to access forms and find resources. Weights & Measures (W&M) completed 345 inspections accounting for over 1,160 devices within the two counties. These tests involved pumping more than 21,000 gallons of fuel and using more than 5 million pounds of test weight ensuring all commercial weighing and measuring devices meet NYS standards. The department collected 132 fuel samples confirming fuel sold within both counties meet a variety of parameters. In the last two years, the W&M program has shown a savings in excess of $100,000.00 through GO Health shared services. In 2022, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties will be developing the new 2022-2024 tri-county Community Health Assessment (CHA)/Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and in partnership with local hospital systems, Community Services Plan. We will be looking for community members in all three counties to assist in the process by participating in community conversations and taking the Community Health Assessment survey. We are also looking forward to completing the Public Health Accreditation Process in November of 2022. “It is our pleasure to serve the residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “We thank you for the opportunity and look forward to a productive 2022. We wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy New Year.”

For information about GO Health, visit GOHealthny.org . For the Genesee County Health
Department, call 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 and for the Orleans County Health Department, call
585-589-3278.

August 25, 2021 - 7:43pm

More than 400 people volunteered at Genesee and Orleans county testing clinics and mass vaccination sites since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those individuals – and any others willing to help – could be called into service again depending upon the force of the virus’ Delta variant.

That was the message shared by Genesee/Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit during a noon luncheon today at Genesee Community College in honor of those who gave of their time to support health department staff.

“Bottom line, we’re still in an evolving process here; we’re still in the pandemic,” Pettit said, after reviewing the timeline of the pandemic and providing statistics on the number of COVID cases, testing and vaccination to approximately 200 in attendance. “We’re still taking steps to make sure our communities are protected and make them as safe as they can be.”

Pettit said that all told, Genesee County has had 5,508 cases, with 53 active, while Orleans County has had 3,245 cases, with 49 active.

As far as vaccinations, he said that 59.6 percent of Genesee residents age 12 and over have taken the shot(s) while 55 percent of Orleans residents have done likewise (although both are less than the state average).

He reported that 279 different individuals volunteered at testing clinics or mass vaccination sites in Genesee County and 117 did the same in Orleans County. Another 49 staff members who assisted raised the total to 445 “who have given of their time to help during this pandemic.”

In Genesee, volunteers conducted 6,695 tests in Genesee and another 3,465 in Orleans.

Pettit said volunteers helped with 16,176 doses (either first or second shots) in Genesee County and 10,736 doses in Orleans County.

He received a loud applause when he said that the local volunteers did all the work during the New York State-sponsored site at Genesee Community, and so he took the liberty of adding those 2,500 vaccinations to the Genesee/Orleans total.

“Over 35 percent of those vaccinated in both counties was done by this group (of volunteers),” he proclaimed.

Going forward, he said people in certain health categories will be eligible for a third dose, and booster shots likely will be available in late September.

“Apparently at this point, they’re noticing a decrease in efficacy of the vaccine, … so we will be providing booster shots to anybody who has been fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (and is eight months out from their second shots).

Pettit said cases are climbing back up as the Delta variant takes hold in Genesee and Orleans counties and around the nation.

“We’re spending a lot of time on school re-openings …we’re prepared,” he said. “We have had a lot of opportunity to hone our craft, so to speak.”

March 1, 2021 - 5:53pm

Additional doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine have been coming into Genesee County this week -- a welcome sign of better days ahead, according to the Genesee/Orleans public health director.

“After our allocation had been flat for four weeks, the county Department of Health has received 885 doses of the vaccine – 300 of the Moderna and 585 of the Pfizer,” Paul Pettit said this afternoon via Zoom during the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Pettit also mentioned that several “community partners” have received vaccines, with United Memorial Medical Center getting 200 doses and Tops Market in Batavia, Tops Market in Le Roy and Oakfield Family Pharmacy receiving 100 doses each.

He reported that Genesee Community College will be the site of two local vaccination clinics this week – from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday for first dose only and from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday for second dose only.

This is not the mass vaccination clinic at GCC that leaders in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have been vigorously asking for, but good news may be around the corner, Pettit said.

“We’re still working on the details of a potential mass vaccination location,” he said. “We expect more details tomorrow and will send out a press release as soon as possible.” 

He said 3,500 doses would be available if and when New York State officially approves the college as a regional vaccination clinic.

In related COVID-19 developments, Pettit said the state’s guidance on gatherings is expected to change on March 15, increasing the number to 150 people or 50 percent of capacity, and he said he anticipates the county receiving the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine in a couple weeks.

He also urged state officials to update their guidance concerning people who are fully vaccinated.

“They already recognize the exposure aspect of it (that they don’t have to quarantine), but now they need to do the same when it comes to travel,” Pettit said.

Legislatively, the Human Services Committee approved two resolutions submitted by Pettit that reflect funding connected to the county’s effort to test for the virus and vaccinate against it:

  • An agreement with the New York State Department of Health for the acceptance of the Immunization Action Plan contract for the period April 1 through March 31 in the amount of $25,651.20.
  • An amendment to the county budget to reflect increases in overtime, Social Security, Medicare and Specialized Supplies totaling $13,566, with these costs offset by federal revenue.
June 16, 2020 - 12:06pm

From Brenden A. Bedard, MPH, deputy Public Health director:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Department is accepting applications from contractors to be included on a list of bidders for the Genesee-Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program (the Program).

The Program is grant-funded and is concentrating on reducing lead-based paint hazards at properties in the City of Batavia and Village of Albion.

However, properties must be located in one of the following census tracts: 36037950700, 36037950800, 36037951000, and 36073040700. Check your census tract here.

Contractors wishing to be included on the list are required to complete a Contractor Application.

There is no deadline for application submittal at this time. However, only those firms which appear on the Program’s list of preapproved contractors, having submitted a completed application package and been successfully preapproved, will receive bid packages.

Contractors are required to be EPA Lead Abatement certified. Training can be arranged and paid for with Program funds for firms/workers not currently certified.

Applications and information on the Program can be obtained by calling the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555, or by emailing [email protected]

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