VERSAILLES – Two women who have been involved with the Ripley County Health Department for years were recognized Oct. 17 for their support of the organization.
Board President Harley Robinson, Dillsboro, said member Mary Schmaltz, Milan, will be stepping off at the end of the year, and administrator Vicky Powell's last day was Oct. 27.
"We'll miss them both," he said. "I've known these ladies for a while. I love their passion for public health. It shows in the work they do and in how the people that surround them talk about these individuals. You'll be missed."
Member Bill Hisrich, Batesville, said, "Thank you for all your hard work. I've enjoyed working with both of you."
"You made the department better and made it fun to come down here," added health officer Dr. David Welsh, Batesville. "Vicky impresses me with how dedicated she is to Ripley County. It's not just a job. I really appreciate that. With Mary, it was nice to have some diversity on the board. She brought the (Southeastern) Career Center to the board (because she taught there). That will be sorely missed."
Holley Rose, public health preparedness coordinator, noted, "Thank you to both of you for being wonderful examples of women in public health."
Grants coordinator Pat Thomas reported, "I really hate to lose Vicky because we've been a team for the best part of 17 years."
During her administrative report, Powell emphasized, "I really have enjoyed working with the board these last few years. I appreciate your support and friendship and wish you all the best in the future.
"I remember the first time I talked to Dr. Welsh about this job. I ran into him at Wal-Mart after I saw the ad in the paper. He told me to 'go over there and check it out and shadow them.' Thank you for that."
Schmaltz was also appreciative to the staff and fellow board members.
In other news, Welsh encouraged people to get their flu shots. "Lots of people are hospitalized and die from the flu. Renew your pneumonia shot if it's been over five years, so you keep out of the hospital. For adults, if you don't know when your last tetanus shot was, get one."
He also stressed the importance of "everyone getting ready for winter. Are you prepared if you get that sudden storm? Get a few more staples in the cupboard. If you have elderly neighbors, check in on them."
Thomas said the Tobacco Prevention Grant is going great and Ripley County Tobacco Prevention Coalition coordinator Sarah Patterson "has jumped into it."
Patterson announced, "I am working on building a tobacco prevention coalition within Ripley County .... I am also checking with all the schools in the county to make sure they have a comprehensive tobacco-free campus policy, according to the state definition, which includes e-cigs.
"I'm focusing on multi-use housing units ... to see if there are smoking or tobacco policies in place. The selling point to the owners or managers is it's more cost effective to have smoke-free housing than to have to renovate spaces that were exposed to third-hand smoke that is incorporated into the carpet, drywall, etc."
She is working on a point of sale marketing analysis, a state requirement. "I'll visit places like gas stations and convenience stores and note how tobacco products are marketed and to whom .... The state will compile the information, and the report will come back to us and we will feed it back into the community."
Patterson also explained that 1-800-Quit-Now has free information for individuals who want to stop smoking. "I will be reaching out to all health organizations in the county .... Four or five entities are already signed up, but are not actively making referrals."
The next RCHD meeting is Jan. 16, 2018, at 5 p.m. in the Ripley County Annex, Versailles.
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.