BOARD OF HEALTH
April 5, 2005
The rescheduled monthly meeting of the Board of Health of the Township of Mahwah, held at the Municipal Offices, 475 Corporate Drive, Mahwah NJ, was called to order at 8:00 PM by President, Wendy DeSilva. The Opening Statement was read according to the Sunshine Law and was followed by Roll Call.
PRESENT: Mrs. DeSilva
ABSENT: Mr. Ackerman
PROFESSIONALS: Mr. Romans, Attorney
Mr. Hopper, Health Officer
Mrs. Homler, REHS
Mrs. Campbell, Secretary
APPROVAL OF REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
Moved by Mr. Wasson and, seconded by Mrs. Spiech and, agreed by all present, the minutes of the regular meeting of March 3, 2005 were approved.
APPROVAL OF HEALTH ACTIVITIES REPORT
Moved by Mr. LaMontagne and, seconded by Mr. Harris, that the Health Activities Report be approved.
Mr. Wasson expressed concern about pesticides and fertilization chemicals that landscapers and homeowners would soon be applying to their lawns. Mr. Hopper explained that the D.E.P. licenses all pesticide applicators in the state. Mr. Wasson further inquired if the State actually sent employees to monitor those who were licensed. Mr. Hopper replied that the State would always respond to a complaint to verify its legitimacy. Mrs. Homler added that our department does receive such complaints.
Mrs. Spiech requested more information on an abatement notice issued to a landlord for peeling paint. Mrs. Homler responded that a child living in a rental unit had tested with elevated blood lead. The landlord was put on notice and had remedied all violations except for a small section of a door jam that was still peeling. Mrs. Spiech inquired as to the procedure of removing leaded paint. Mrs. Homler replied that the owner may choose encapsulation [containment and/or sealing]or simply removal and replacement of the offending surface.
Mr. LaMontagne was concerned about the abatement notice issued to A&P that was still pending. Mrs. Homler assured the Board that there were no contamination issues with the food service at A&P. She has inspected the premises periodically and A&P is abiding by our stipulation that only covered rows were to be used in the self-service bar. The new equipment they are purchasing is on backorder; Mrs. Homler verified this by viewing the purchase order. While frustrating, the delay for such special order commercial equipment is not unusual.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Activities Report was unanimously approved.
HEALTH OFFICER’S REPORT
Moved by Mr. Wasson, and seconded by Mrs. Spiech, that the Health Officer’s Report should be approved.
Mrs. DeSilva expressed her disappointment in the results of the Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement (T.A.S.E) operation; eight of the fourteen establishments visited sold cigarettes to our student volunteer. Mr. Hopper stated that he would like to see the ‘sting’ take place more than once a year. Mr. Harris inquired as to the legal process after the violation. Mr. Hopper replied that summonses would be issued to all establishments that sold cigarettes to minors. Mr. Hopper will issue a press release subsequent to their court appearances as a deterrent to future violations and to elevate public awareness.
Mrs. DeSilva asked if this year’s violations were from repeat offenders. Mrs. Homler stated that the Fardale Mini Mart had been a prior offender, but that the establishment was under different ownership at the time. In 3 or 4 venues, our volunteer was asked for and, supplied ID. However, in each of these cases, the clerks did not calculate the exact age of the purchaser, merely that the year of birth complied. Hence, our student volunteer (who would turn 18 in December of this year) was allowed to make the purchase.
Mr. Wasson expressed surprise that the CVS had sold to a minor. Mr. Hopper related that he had two CVS stores in Paramus that were routinely caught selling cigarettes to minors. The Bergen Mall CVS store’s license was in the process of being suspended. He suggested that CVS needed a stronger corporate policy and better training for their clerks.
Mrs. Spiech inquired about a reference to cancer clusters in Mr. Hopper’s report. Mr. Hopper replied that he had received a call (from a Fardale resident) who was concerned because several cases of cancer had been recently diagnosed in her area. Mr. Hopper stated that he regularly receives such calls from residents. He explains to these callers the statistical probability (1 in 3) of developing cancer, and how certain behaviors and certain exposures over a life-time will influence those chances. Further, with the advances in the treatment of heart disease, people are living longer and, as a consequence of longevity, the probability of developing cancer is higher.
Mr. Wasson noted a reference in the report regarding petting zoos and related a recent news item wherein a family in Florida became gravely ill after visiting such a place. The owner of the venue was being sued by the family. Mr. Hopper stated that the CDC issued guidelines for petting zoos (probably in response to the Florida incident); he had provided these guidelines to Mrs. Homler. Mr. Wasson asked where our petting zoos existed. Mrs. Homler answered that Secor’s Farm runs a petting zoo, and circuses or carnivals that come to town (as well as our own Mahwah Day event) often include these attractions. Mrs. Homler told the Board that, even prior to the recent events, the Department had always insisted on hand-washing stations at petting zoos.
Mr. LaMontagne inquired as to the type of response received from West Bergen Mental Health Care’s services following the death of the young fireman who worked for the DPW. Mr. Hopper had heard positive comments, and that the DPW was appreciative our outreach. Mr. LaMontagne clarified that he was seeking an estimate of how many individuals had actually used the service. Mr. Hopper stated that a presentation was made to about 40 members of the DPW, and that Mr. Spiech (Superintendent) advised him that it was well received. The program was also offered to the Fire Department, but it was unclear if any of the firemen participated. Mr. Hopper indicated that while individual counseling was also offered to all, he did not know if anyone availed themselves of this offer. Under our agreement, he continued, the first visit for a municipal employee or volunteer was free; the remainder would be charged to the individual’s medical insurance.
Mr. LaMontagne was concerned that all of the fireman may not have been adequately informed of the availability of help. As a fireman himself, he was unaware of the outreach presentation. Mr. Hopper informed the Board that he had supplied West Bergen with the name and number of one of the chiefs. Mr. LaMontagne offered that in
this case, the chief himself was also a [victim] of the loss; perhaps we, and/or West Bergen could take a more assertive role in
ensuring that when help was offered, all those affected would be reached.
Mr. Harris inquired if there were two separate ‘sting’ operations for the T.A.S.E. Mr. Hopper replied yes; we were unable to visit all the establishments in one day. Fourteen establishments were visited over two days.
Mrs. Tracey asked for an update on the Ramapo Ridge School situation. Mr. Hopper replied that he is still receiving phone calls from concerned parents. There is presently an unresolved issue regarding the diagnoses of two students (from two different families) who are being treated by the same doctor. The county epidemiologist is attempting to contact the doctor to discuss this. There is agreement however, that the building is not the cause of the specific illness of the children. No unusual illnesses have presented at Ramapo Ridge this year.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Officer’s Report was unanimously approved.
Moved by Mr. Harris and, seconded by Mrs. Tracey, and agreed by all, that the bills for March be approved for payment.
REPORT OF ATTORNEY
3/30/2005 FROM: NJDHSS, R.MATZER, P.PIGNATELLI, P.ROMAN
Re: Public Health Practice Standards
Accountability and Compliance
This letter was sent to all Local Health Officers in the state, thanking those who had submitted their APEX surveys and/or Local Health Evaluation Reports and admonishing those who had not. Mr. Hopper explained that the Public Health Council and the State Health Department have agreed that sanctions will be made against Local Health Boards that are not actively pursuing compliance with the new (2003) Practice Standards.
The Council recommended and, the State has adopted a protocol for dealing with non-compliant Boards. This protocol involves determining wherein the responsibility lies for non-compliance - be it the fault of the Health Officer, the Local Board, the Local Board’s governing body, etc. Penalties may include revocation of the Health Officer’s license or the mandatory surrender of the jurisdiction to the State Health Department. These procedures have been endorsed by the Presidents of both the New Jersey Health Officers Association, and the New Jersey Local Boards of Health.
Mr. Hopper stated that we as a Board, have made every effort to comply with the Practice Standards.
Mrs. Spiech asked Mr. Hopper to speak about the TOPOFF exercises taking place throughout the tri-state area this week. Mr. Hopper related that the exercises included simulation of a building explosion in Connecticut, and a terrorist-induced outbreak of pneumonic plague in New Jersey. To test the efficacy of the planned response, all involved public health agencies and service providers were responding to the ‘crises’ as if they were legitimate events.
The exercise culminates Thursday evening when Leonia High School will serve as a “POD” or, a designated Point of Distribution for antibiotics. Mr. Hopper and Mrs. Homler will be attending the exercise as ‘patients’. Mrs. DeSilva asked how many PODS were established. Mr. Hopper stated that each county was to designate one POD for the exercise. In the event of a real emergency, there would be at least six PODS in Bergen County.
Mr. Harris noted that Homeland Security had distributed an emergency preparedness booklet the prior weekend. Mr. Hopper replied that radio announcements went on air, encouraging people to contact their local health department for a copy of the book. Unfortunately, the State did not distribute the books to the local health departments; they were sent to the county health departments instead. The State was getting some criticism for the oversight.
Mr. Romans asked if there were any well contamination issues due to the recent heavy rains and flooding. Neither Mr. Hopper nor Mrs. Homler were aware of any problems. Despite the heavy rains, the Saddle and Ramapo Rivers did not reach flood levels. Mr. LaMontagne
credited the (newer) Pompton Lakes area damn for reducing the
severity of Mahwah’s flooding associated with the Ramapo River.
Mrs. Tracey asked Mrs. DeSilva if she had been able to speak with Mrs. Petho about the smoking issues on the high school campus. Mrs. DeSilva said yes and, advised Mrs. Petho of this Board’s discussions on the matter. She suggested that students who smoke on campus were breaking the law and therefore, this was a police issue vs. a Board of Health issue. She also supplied Mrs. Petho copies of 2 published incidents wherein school districts had summoned the police after apprehending students smoking on school grounds.
Mr. Hopper referenced state statutes pertaining to the Local Board of Health’s responsibility in these matters. Our Board is responsible to ensure that the school district is providing a smoke free environment and, that they have policies in place to do that. Mrs. Tracey further asked Mrs. DeSilva if Mrs. Petho was amenable to this remedy; Mrs. DeSilva replied yes.
Resolution Number 05-06
Appointment of Dorothy McDonough to the position of
Clerk/Typist(Part Time, 20 hours per week)
Introduced by: Mr. Wasson
Seconded by: Mr. Harris
Roll Call: 6 Ayes
Resolution Number 05-07
Approval to recommend the 2005 Voluntary Municipal Support
contract with West Bergen Mental Healthcare
Introduced by: Mrs. Spiech
Seconded by: Mrs. Tracey
Roll Call: 6 Ayes
Resolution Number 05-08
Approval to recommend the 2005 Student Assistance Program agreement between West Bergen Mental Healthcare and the Township of Mahwah
Introduced by: Mr. Wasson
Seconded by: Mr. Mr. LaMontagne
Roll Call: 6 Ayes
There being no further comments or discussion, a motion to adjourn
at 9:00 was made by Mr. Harris, seconded by Mr. LaMontagne and, agreed by all present.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 5th, 2005.
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