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 8:03 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: Mrs. Tracey
PROFESSIONALS: Mr. Hopper, Health Officer
Mrs. Homler, REHS
Mrs. Campbell, Secretary
APPROVAL OF REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
Moved by Mrs. Spiech and, seconded by Mr. Wasson and, agreed by all present, the minutes of the meeting of May 5, 2005 were approved.
APPROVAL OF HEALTH ACTIVITIES REPORT
Moved by Mr. Ackerman and, seconded by Mr. Harris, that the Health Activities Report be approved.
Mr. Ackerman requested if the Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement operation was going to take place on a monthly basis. Mr. Hopper replied no, but that he would like to run it more than once a year. Mr. Ackerman noted that some of the violators had pleaded not guilty and was curious as to what grounds they would use for this plea. Mr. Hopper stated that the offenders often hope to bargain down to a lesser offense. Mr. Harris requested confirmation that upon a third offense, a retailer would have to appear before our Board; yes.
Mr. Ackerman asked for more information on the summonses issued to two food establishments that had not obtained their 2005 licenses. -2-
Mrs. Homler detailed the notification procedures and grace periods allotted to all food licensees, and noted that both establishments had been operating in Mahwah for many years. She was unaware of any specific reason why their licenses were not renewed in a timely fashion.
Mr. Wasson requested details of a pre-operational inspection. Mrs. Homler explained that during a pre-op, she inspects to see that construction was completed according to Code and the approved plan reviews prior to the establishment opening for business.
Mr. Ackerman inquired about Mr. Ostrow’s status, and the work load in the office, referring to the previous month’s discussion regarding hiring of part-time help. Mr. Hopper replied that Mr. Ostrow will be working on a limited, part-time schedule and Mrs. Homler was working diligently to cover all critical assignments.
Mr. LaMontagne inquired how Mahwah’s staff and work load compared to other towns. Mr. Hopper replied that many of Mahwah’s services are provided contractually. This often puts an additional burden on the full-time staff. As an example, the Public Health Nursing contract does not include immunization audits - therefore, Mrs. Homler must conduct them herself at all the schools. Normally, this would be a function of the Public Health Nurse. Services provided under the contract for animal control requires staff intervention to effect action. If the town had its own animal control unit, the public could contact them directly.
Mr. Hopper continued that Mahwah’s population was comparable to Paramus; and although Paramus has more food establishments, it does not have to deal with septic issues. The Paramus Health Department staff includes the Health Officer, an Assistant Health Officer, 3 full time Environmental Health Specialists, 1 full time Public Health Nurse, 2 part time Public Health Nurses, and 3 full time clerical staff. The town also maintains their own Animal Control unit.
Mr. LaMontagne asked what would be the proper time to request funding for additional staff for the Mahwah Health Department. Mr. Hopper replied such a request would need to be made during the budget proceedings and presented to the mayor and council. Preparations for the 2006 budget would begin in September. Mr. Hopper expressed interest in pursuing alternatives for public health nursing and education, as he perceives this as a great need. He agreed that a third staff member would help with the increasing work load.
Mr. Ackerman asked what were the Department’s anticipated revenues, and were we on track to meet them. Mr. Hopper replied that we do not budget for revenue, however revenues increase when fees are increased, and/or new food establishments open in town or change ownership. Revenue from marriage and pool licenses, as well as septic permits are fairly static.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Activities Report was unanimously approved.
APPROVAL OF HEALTH OFFICER’S REPORT
Moved by Mr. Wasson and, seconded my Mr. Harris, that the Health Officer’s Report be approved.
Mrs. DeSilva remarked that she had not seen Babesiosis reported before and asked Mr. Hopper to explain the disease. Mr. Hopper replied that it was a parasitic, tick-borne disease that affects red blood cells. Mrs. DeSilva asked if it were curable; Mr. Hopper replied yes.
Mr. Wasson asked if the Department was responsible for preparing the flow calculations for the public pools. Mrs. Homler replied yes, and that those calculations were determined by formula, not estimation.
Mr. Ackerman requested more information about the sewage problems at the Township Pool. Mrs. Homler stated that the septic system had failed due to improper piping and construction. A new sewer line now services the building.
Mr. Ackerman asked for additional information on a smoking complaint. Mr. Hopper replied that he had received a call from a person who complained of having to walk through a group of smokers in order to enter the municipal building. Likely, the incident occurred on a day that Court was in session as the employees smoke in the back of the building, separate from the public entrances. Mr. Hopper passed the information along to Mr. Campion.
Mrs. Spiech was interested in the outcome of the feral cat issue near Route 202. Mr. Hopper said that feral cat populations are an increasing problem in all jurisdictions. “Good Samaritans” are dropping cat food and even constructing shelters for stray cats while the State’s new Office of Animal Welfare is promoting the practice of Trap, Spay, Immunize, Release. Mr. Hopper stated that the practice goes against every principal of Public Health Science.
Mr. Hopper suggested that the Board may wish to consider an ordinance against feeding stray cats (as separate from the current ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild animals.) He is researching the topic, but forewarned the Board that any action we take will likely be met with strong opposition. Meanwhile, Mr. Hopper will send letters to the owners of the properties where the harborage and feeding is occurring.
There being no further questions or discussion, the Health Officer’s Report was unanimously approved by all present.
Moved by Mr. Harris and, seconded by Mrs. Spiech and, unanimously agreed by all present to pay the bills for May.
REPORT OF ATTORNEY
At this time, Mrs. DeSilva reported receiving a call from Mr. Romans on June 1, stating that he would decline a re-appointment for another term as the Board’s attorney. He suggested we may want to contact the firm of B.D. Padavano, which Mrs. DeSilva did. She expects to hear back from them next week. Mrs. Spiech asked where the firm was located; Montvale. Mr. Ackerman inquired if the firm was familiar with [the laws/issues of public health]; Mrs. DeSilva replied yes.
Mrs. DeSilva stated that Mr. Romans had been our attorney for at least 20 years, and asked the Board to consider ways in which we might commemorate his many years of service.
Mr. Ackerman asked if Mr. Romans could consult for us on an interim basis. Mr. Hopper replied that it was feasible. Our Board would need to pass a resolution establishing an hourly rate; that resolution would then need to be presented to the Mayor and Council.
4/27/2005 From: Isaac Bryant, Division of Student Services, NJDE
Addressed to Partners in Promoting Healthy Schools, and summarizing the data of the 2001 and 2003 Surveys of New Jersey Student Health Behaviors. Mr. Ackerman asked how relevant was this information which was already four years old? Mr. Hopper agreed that it often takes the State a long time to disseminate the data it collects,
however the Surveys were a useful tool in determining trends. Mr. Hopper was very encouraged by the reported decrease of tobacco use.
Mrs. DeSilva related a discussion she had with her students wherein they informed her many of the survey participants lie. When she asked why, they replied that many do not really believe their answers are confidential and/or anonymous. She agreed with Mr. Hopper that the use of tobacco is down, but felt that in reality, the figures for sexual activity were much higher than the survey reported. Mrs. Spiech added that the figures for overweight and obesity were clearly understated.
5/05/2005 From: Joseph Komosinksi, State Registrar
Official approval of the appointment of Marianne Campbell to the position of Registrar for the Township of Mahwah.
5/18/2005 Press Release, Retailers fined for Sale of Cigarettes
While the Bergen Record did not print the release, it appeared in several other local papers. Mr. Hopper is hopeful that all cigarette retailers will take note and, increase their vigilance against underage sales.
As regards the Annual Report, Mr. Harris inquired if we had seen improved participation by the Ramapo Reservation Indian population in the Health programs we offer. He further inquired if these programs were making an impact. Mr. Hopper stated that we have achieved marginal success to this point, but that our continued presence and the programs we offer affects the health of this community in a positive way.
Mrs. Homler had collected a packet of information for the committee on nutrition and obesity. Included in the packet were pamphlets, coloring books and school menu comparisons from June 2004 and June 2005 (for which she felt the improvements were nominal).
As chairperson of the committee, Mr. Ackerman stated that he would like to use the summer as an information gathering time, and begin work sessions in September.
Mrs. Spiech offered that on Saturday (June 4) at 12:30, NBC was airing a program on obesity in childhood. She suggested that some members may be able to record the program.
Mrs. Homler stressed that we need to partner with the Board of Education, the school nurses, the head of food service and the
health educators in school if the committee is to affect positive
change. Mr. Ackerman agreed, and added that it would be crucial to enlist the support of the new Superintendent of schools.
Mr. Harris felt that delaying the first meeting to September would likely delay any action until at least December. He suggested the committee meet in July. Mr. Ackerman thanked Mr. Harris for joining the committee, and, as a whole, the group agreed to meet over the summer. Mr. Ackerman will notify the committee members via email.
There being no further comments or discussion, a motion to adjourn at 8:55pm was made by Mr. Harris, seconded by Mrs. DeSilva and, agreed by all present.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 21, 2005.