LISBON - County nurse Barbara Knee presented the Columbiana County Board of Health with a check for $43,465 from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, which will help ensure the health department will continue providing mammograms to all women in the county.
Knee explained the Cancer Detection Clinic is funded through a levy voters passed about two years ago. The clinic allows those living in the county health district to receive free cancer screenings.
However, those county residents living in Salem and East Liverpool do not pay the levy and usually would not be eligible for the free screenings. The grant from the foundation ensures women from those cities also can receive free mammograms. Additionally, the $30 lab fees for pap smears are now being covered by two private donors.
The foundation check is less than the county health department received last year when Knee accepted a check for $66,491.
The foundation money is not the only ones shrinking. Knee said the Ohio Department of Health recently notified her that beginning Oct. 1, the state will no longer cover the cost of vaccinations for underinsured children.
Knee said families with no insurance or public insurance like Medicaid who also use the health department to vaccinate their children for school represent only 40 percent of the children seen. The remaining 60 percent are underinsured families, those who have insurance but the insurance does not cover vaccines or have very high deductibles for them.
She is looking for a solution, but as it stands those families who are underinsured will no longer be able to come for free vaccines after Oct. 1. Unfortunately, Knee said the department is already making appointments for October. Students entering kindergarten and seventh grade are required to have certain immunizations before school starts, although Knee said most schools will allow students who already have an appointment to begin school.
Knee said the department currently is understaffed with only two nurses, which limits the number of appointments available.
During Wednesday's health board meeting, Health Commissioner Wes Vins requested permission to seek another full-time nurse for the department. He assured the board he has checked with Fiscal Officer Cis Donahey and the money is available for the position.