County, medical center ‘negotiating’ payment for public health

Discussion is continuing between the county supervisors and Greene County Medical Center about the future of public health.

Supervisors John Muir and Dawn Rudolph reported at the supervisors’ regular meeting Monday about a meeting they attended last week with public health director Becky Wolf. Also at the meeting were Dr Jon Van Der Veer and Bill Raney. Raney is on the board of health and also a medical center trustee. Rudolph represents the county supervisors on the board of health.

The supervisors have considered ending the long-standing contract with the medical center for public health services since the medical center last year proposed the county’s payment over the next four years increase from $150,000 to $614,000. Medical center administrators say the hospital has subsidized the cost of providing public health services in the past; they want the county to pay the full direct and indirect cost.

Rudolph said the smaller group looked at every service offered by the public health department to determine if it is duplicated elsewhere and could be cut. She said they found a few, but they weren’t “high dollar” or significant in the budget.

According to Muir, he and Rudolph named a dollar amount the county is willing to pay for public health services. He declined to say publicly what the amount is, but inferred that it’s more than the $200,000 the county is paying for the current fiscal year.

He said he’s waiting for a “good faith” step from the medical center. “I hate to call it this, but it feels like a negotiation,” he said.

Raney was tasked with talking to medical center CEO Carl Behne and CFO Mark Vander Linden about the county’s offer.

Rudolph said she is confident a resolution will be found before they begin working on the FY 19 budget, usually in December.

Medical center CEO Behne, speaking to the Jefferson Rotary Club the same day, said the board of health is having “vigorous conversation” with the county, and that the supervisors “know they own it,” referring to the legal responsibility to provide public health services.

In other business, county zoning coordinator Chuck Wenthold reported receiving a master matrix for a new hog confinement facility owned by Bruce Youngblood in Section 25 of Bristol Township. The location is on L Ave north of 210th St on the east side of the road. Rudolph said she has already heard from neighbors unhappy about the nearness of the facility to their homes.

The supervisors will review the master matrix Sept. 11, with a public hearing slated for Sept. 18.

Wenthold also reported that as of Monday, the base and mid-section of the first wind turbine in the Beaver Creek Wind Park had been erected and that MidAmerican’s contractors have 175 workers on site.

Roger Aegerter spoke with the supervisors on behalf of the Jefferson Matters: Main Street Tower View Team. The supervisors have asked the TVT to find a location other than the courthouse grounds for sculptures submitted in the Ring Out for Art contest.

The TVT is exploring the empty lot on the north side of the 100 block of W. Washington St, across from the ISU Extension office, as a location for a sculpture garden. Muir told him the supervisors would consider a request for Louis Dreyfus funds for such a project, but the funding would be the county’s only participation in the project.

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