SALEM - The city health board set new work hours for the vital statistics registrar and yet-to-be appointed deputy registrar, but didn't set a date for when those hours will take effect.
The board met in special session Monday regarding the hours and the appointment of a substitute nurse, with city Health Commissioner Richard Setty explaining the new part-time registrar will work under the current hours for now until she can appoint a new part-time deputy and get certified by the state of Ohio.
The current hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the office closed for lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The new hours for vital statistics, when they begin, will be 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the office still closed from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for lunch, or by appointment for other services.
Terrielynn Hunter, who was named as registrar last week, was scheduled to begin her duties Thursday, pending state approval. She'll work under the current hours for now. Setty could not say when the new hours will begin, with another special meeting expected next month.
The board had been trying to find ways to cut costs and reducing the work hours for vital statistics had been discussed.
Mayor John Berlin said no action had been taken until after longtime registrar Candice Pierson said she was retiring effective Oct. 31, which is Wednesday. That set the ball rolling for the board to request city council reduce the full-time position to part-time, with plans for a part-time registrar and part-time deputy registrar to fulfill the duties.
Last week at another special meeting, Setty recommended the board adopt the new hours, which were different than they originally planned, due to the Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics requiring more hours of coverage.
Originally the board planned to have the registrars each work a half day, with a half hour overlap and the office open during lunch, but the state balked at the idea, saying that wasn't enough and the program would be transferred to the Columbiana County general health district if the hours weren't increased. The state wanted 30 hours for the registrar and 15 hours for the deputy registrar, with at least three hours of overlap.
The board held off on the decision so a couple of members could question the state about the three-hour overlap requirement, which they did. The state didn't budge.
"They were very insistent that with a part-time registrar and a part-time deputy registrar that there be a three-hour overlap," Berlin said.
The registrar is responsible for issuing birth and death certificates, burial permits and other vital statistic documents in the area covered by the district, which would cover anything in the city of Salem. Hunter completed an eight-hour training session last week and some web-based training over the weekend.
The board named Debbie Pihlgren of Salem as substitute nurse, pending the checking of an additional reference, to help out while the health department's part-time nurse is out on medical leave. Pihlgren works for the Salem Area Visiting Nurses on a per diem basis and will work part-time hours for the health department. The rate of pay had been set at $17.75 per hour max.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org