BOARD OF HEALTH
The regularly scheduled 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. Harris
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 Mr. LaMontagne and, agreed by all present, the minutes of the rescheduled meeting of April 5, 2005 were approved.
APPROVAL OF HEALTH ACTIVITIES REPORT
Moved by Mrs. Spiech and, seconded by Mr. Ackerman, that the Health Activities Report be approved.
Mr. Wasson requested an explanation for the unusually high percentage of unsatisfactory bathing water samples reported in April. Mrs. Homler replied that she had noticed the increase and, therefore inspected all the year round pools. In speaking with the pool operators, she discovered that the Sheraton was using a new strip test kit, and the technicians from Garden State Labs were utilizing electronic equipment to take instant readings on some of the chemical levels. Each of the pool operators also expressed some doubts about the adequacy of training received by the technicians who were testing their pools.
Mrs. DeSilva asked if there were other labs that could do the testing. Mrs. Homler replied yes, but that each pool individually contracts and pays for [a State approved] lab to do their water testing. She then reiterated, any result falling outside the parameters of the Sanitary Code (no matter how small the margin) will result in an unsatisfactory report.
Mr. Ackerman asked if it was the pool owners who tested the water or the lab technicians. Mrs. Homler replied that both parties test the water. By Code, the lab must perform a test once a week. This report details the chlorine level, the pH level, bacteria and standard plate counts. The pool operator is also required to test the water at prescribed intervals during its hours of operation, and to keep a log of those readings.
Mr. Ackerman then requested which readings represented actual health hazards. Mr. Hopper replied that the bacteriological readings were the main concern; high standard plate counts, coliform, etc. Mr. Ackerman suggested that the unsatisfactory chlorine and pH readings rendered our report somewhat irrelevant; our year to date figures suggest a major health problem when in fact, none exists.
All present agreed, and the monthly report will be adjusted to differentiate between unsatisfactory bacteriological readings and those with ph or chlorine levels that do not meet Code.
Mrs. DeSilva asked how Mrs. Homler came upon the grease disposal problems detailed in the report. Mrs. Homler replied that the DPW had contacted her after spending several days clearing a sewer trunk line which was completely obstructed with grease. Letters were sent to all food establishments connected to the line and inspections were made to try and determine who was responsible. None admitted culpability, but proof of proper disposal and a maintenance schedule is now required of each establishment.
Mrs. DeSilva asked how the summonses for failure to license a dog come up. Mrs. Homler answered that generally, the report of a dog bite is the prompt for such action. In the course of these investigations, the animals’ rabies immunizations are verified by examining the current year’s license in the Clerk’s office. If none exists, a summons is issued.
Mrs. Spiech noted Mrs. Homler’s participation at the Ramapo College Wellness Fair. She asked for Mrs. Homler’s opinions on the success of the program and the students’ attitudes toward health issues. Based on attendance and participation, Mrs. Homler felt there was active concern for health issues in this demographic. She also related that this was both the second year the college had hosted the event and the second time we participated (handwashing booth). Other exhibitors and booths included and/or addressed planned parenthood, emergency responders, rape crisis intervention, body piercing, nutrition, chiropractic, etc.
Mr. LaMontagne asked whom the event was open to. Mrs. Homler believed it was specifically targeted to the students and faculty of the college and said it was well attended.
Mr. Ackerman requested the penalty schedule for the TASE infractions. Mr. Hopper replied that a first time offender was charged $250, a second violation was $500 and the third would incur a $1000 charge. The penalties are mandated by State statute and carry over through the lifetime of the business entity. Mr. Ackerman asked who received these funds. Mr. Hopper replied that the fee went to the municipal treasury.
Mr. Hopper commended Mrs. Homler for the outstanding job she has done in Mr. Ostrow’s absence, covering both the environmental matters normally handled by Mr. Ostrow, as well as managing her own responsibilities. Mr. Hopper, however, is becoming increasingly concerned about the excessive work load. Mr. Ostrow is anxious to return to work but, cannot without his physician’s permission. The approaching pool and camp seasons and the additional demands they make upon the Department may necessitate hiring additional (temporary) personnel. There are licensed Health Inspectors available to do this type of work per diem, or on a short term basis. Funding for this assistance would have to come from the general fund - our budget only covers existing personnel. (Mr. Ostrow’s sick leave is covered at full salary under the terms of the union contract and, by virtue of accumulated sick time during his 25 years of service). Mrs. Spiech asked if the Business Administrator was aware of our situation; Mr. Hopper replied yes.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Activities Report was unanimously approved.
APPROVAL OF HEALTH OFFICER’S REPORT
Moved by Mr. Ackerman and, seconded my Mr. Wasson, that the Health Officer’s Report be approved.
Mr. Hopper recapped his Department of Homeland Security TOPOFF experience. The conclusion of those participating was that much work still needed to be done in formulating a viable response. The purpose of the exercise of course, was not to determine if, but where the system fails and to address those specific issues. The state will have to re-tool the response plan, and will use the participants’ experiences and the de-briefing interviews in that process.
Mr. Wasson asked how the medical screenings at the POD clinics would be accomplished when English was not a first language for two out of three people in the state. Mr. Hopper replied that there were translators available at the simulation but, staffing in general would be a major concern in the event of a real attack. The number of responders expected to manage the crisis could be diminished by as much as half due to fatalities within their ranks or death and sickness in their own families.
Mrs. DeSilva asked Mrs. Campbell how the Department’s new part-time clerk-typist was working out. Mrs. Campbell replied that she was very pleased with Mrs. McDonough’s work ethic, competency and active interest in learning the varied workings of the Health Department.
Mrs. Spiech asked Mr. Hopper to expand on the entries in his report regarding the Lyme disease diagnoses of two Ramapo Ridge students. Mr. Hopper replied that he has regular conversations with the mothers of the two students. In part, these conversations have included educating the mothers on the transmission of Lyme disease and, assuring them that the disease is not related to their concerns of the environmental “fitness” of the school building. Mr. Hopper has scheduled our Health Educator to run an In-Service at Ramapo Ridge on the transmission, diagnosis and prevention of Lyme Disease.
Mr. Ackerman asked if these were the same students who were out long term last year. Mr. Hopper and Mrs. Homler both replied yes, these two were part of that group. Mrs. DeSilva asked if it was possible that Lyme disease caused the long-term illnesses last year, and not the building. Mr. Hopper replied that it was possible in the case of these two students, but that Lyme disease did not explain all the illnesses that presented last year (ie. the appendectomies.)
Mr. Hopper noted that the Pertussis case that presented at Ramapo Ridge this month was an isolated one. Once again, he commended the work done by the school nurse, Eileen Stevenson and all the issues she has dealt with so professionally over the last two school years.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Officer’s report was unanimously approved by all present.
APPROVAL OF THE HEALTH OFFICER’S ANNUAL REPORT
Moved by Mr. LaMontagne and, seconded by Mr. Wasson, that the Health Officer’s Annual report be approved.
Mrs. DeSilva affirmed both the quality of the report and the accomplishments that the statistics represented.
Mr. Ackerman asked Mr. Hopper how long it took to prepare this document. Mr. Hopper replied that with the help of the office staff, it took approximately 10-12 hours to complete. Mr. Ackerman indicated that this was not an unreasonable undertaking [as compared to the other reports that Mr. Hopper is required to prepare].
Mrs. DeSilva asked how many actual cases of Lyme disease were represented by the 2004 figure of 53 reports. Mr. Hopper had asked Adele Alfieri to confirm that number and will provide it to the Board as soon as he receives it. In future, the Annual Report will differentiate between actual cases and reports processed.
Mrs. Spiech inquired if there were any new plans to develop a vaccine against Lyme. Mr. Hopper replied that the previously released LYMErix had been pulled off the market as ineffective.
There is presently no approved vaccine for Lyme Disease.
Mr. Wasson asked if we had legal authority to close a food establishment. Mrs. DeSilva replied that the matter would have to go to court. Mr. Hopper agreed and added that establishments generally close voluntarily to avoid the bad publicity a court order would generate. Mr. Romans said that the police had the authority to close an establishment if the problem was life threatening. Mr. Hopper stated that the red “Unsatisfactory” placard placed in the establishment’s window would discourage the public from patronizing the business.
Mr. Ackerman asked Mr. Hopper to detail the protocol after an establishment committed a third TASE offense. Mr. Hopper explained that the offender would have to appear before our Board. Based on that hearing, our Board would then recommend to the State Department of the Treasury that the business’ license to sell tobacco be either suspended or revoked. The Treasury Department weighs our recommendation and findings and, subsequently makes a recommendation to the Office of Administrative Law. It is this last Office that ultimately renders a decision and levies a penalty against the business.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Officer’s Annual Report was unanimously approved.
Moved by Mrs. Spiech and, seconded by Mr. Ackerman and, unanimously agreed by all present to pay the bills for April.
REPORT OF ATTORNEY
Mrs. Spiech has been seeing ever-increasing attention to the matter of childhood obesity . She expressed concern that our Board might be able to do more to address this issue. Mrs. DeSilva agreed and referred to prior discussions the Board engaged in, specifically the menu offerings in the school system. Mr. LaMontagne reminded the group of the limit to the Board’s authority; we could suggest menu offerings in the school system, but not regulate them.
Mr. Ackerman stated that our Board had discussed the vending machine issue at length. When the group determined that vending offerings were profit-driven, he surmised a consensus that there was little the Board could do to effect real change. Mr. Ackerman went on to say that he was not satisfied with this perception and was convinced we could become more pro-active regarding this issue.
Mrs. DeSilva solicited suggestions as to how this could be accomplished. Mr. Ackerman responded that willing members of this Board could be prepared to educate the Board of Ed, faculty, students and parents by means of presentations, discussions, etc.
Mrs. DeSilva asked and, Mr. Ackerman agreed, to chair a sub-committee responsible for researching the issue of childhood obesity and formulating a plan to address it with the School Superintendent. Mrs. DeSilva, Mrs. Spiech and Mrs. Homler all volunteered to work on this committee.
4/26/2005 To:Brian Campion From: John Hopper
Mr. Hopper advised the Business Administrator of the significant increase in the cost of influenza vaccine and the need to increase the budget amount to cover the cost difference. An additional price increase had already taken place between the writing of the
memo and tonight’s meeting: Sanofi~Pasteur (formerly Aventis) is now charging $107.00 per 10 dose vial and FFF is charging $101.77 per 10 dose vial. Medicare reimburses us for the cost of this program but, a budget appropriation must be made to cover the initial outlay for vaccine and supplies.
4/08/2005 To: NJDHSS From: John Hopper
Mr. Hopper submitted the signed copy of the Local Health Evaluation Report to the Division of Local Public Health Practice and Regional Systems Development. The scoring section indicated we have met 86% of the objectives of the new Practice Standards and, Mr. Hopper felt this was an excellent score at this stage of implementation.
Mr. Hopper entertained general questions regarding the Evaluation and how the figures were compiled. Mr. Ackerman asked how long this report took to complete. Mr. Hopper stated that months went into compiling the data and responding to the survey questions. In addition, hours of committee meetings and work-sessions are spent at both the county and state level.
There being no further comments or discussion, a motion to adjourn
at 9:25pm was made by Mrs. Spiech, seconded by Mr. Ackerman and, agreed by all present.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 2, 2005.