Richmond Fire Department’s paramedicine program might receive two additional employees and cover all of Wayne County.
Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department, told the county’s health board June 22 that her budget for additional state funding that begins in 2024 includes $140,000 for two additional social workers.
Indiana’s legislature approved a $225 million state public-health investment through 2024 and 2025. Wayne County will receive between $773,678.63 and $1,031,571.50 in additional public health funding in 2024.
RFD’s paramedicine program began with a $1 million grant. It currently features two positions for social workers who can respond to crisis situations and connect individuals to necessary services.
Stinson said the program is a good one that needs to expand. The health department would contract with RFD for the two extra positions. They would enable RFD to respond to all areas of the county.
Wayne County has until Sept. 1 for its commissioners to approve receiving the additional state funding. Commissioners told Stinson they wanted to see a detailed plan before deciding whether to opt in or decline the funding.
Another step in the planning process is the development of a Community Health Coalition with the health department and community partners. A July meeting with those partners will enable them to review the department’s comprehensive plan and provide feedback before it is presented to commissioners and county council.
Board members heard complaints from Jody Snyder of Richmond about the process where the health department condemned her house as unfit for human habitation.
Snyder said she experiences mental illness and is a hoarder, and she said she was close to signing a contract with a cleanup company. Snyder said a condemned sticker was placed on her house and she was humiliated.
After one visit when she did not allow inspectors inside — calling people in her house her “worst nightmare” — health department, law enforcement, animal control and mental health personnel returned to her house. When she stepped outside in a bathrobe, she was not allowed back inside.
“How do you think I felt?” she said, adding that “everybody involved in that should be totally ashamed of themselves.”
Stinson said the house contained a lot of animals. The county first wrote an abatement order, but no progress was observed during subsequent trips. The case is now closed after conditions improved.
Stinson said the process can be frightening, intrusive and scary, but is necessary when conditions threaten neighbors’ health.
Dr. David Jetmore, the county’s health officer, told board members one Wayne County death in June is related to COVID-19. It’s the first COVID-related death in the county since March.
There have now been 364 COVID-related deaths of Wayne County residents, including 13 this year.
Jetmore said all COVID metrics tracked by the Indiana State Department of Health are trending downward.
A version of this article appeared in the June 28 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.