History of the Stone County Health Department
Angela Ford, MPA, BSN
The Stone County Health Department has celebrated 32-years of operation on July 1, 2008. Thirty years ago on July 1, 1977 the Stone County Demonstration Health Center officially opened its doors. The office was located in Galena on the north side of the square. Funding to support the health center for salaries, mileage and equipment for the first year came from the then Division of Health. Additional financial support came from a grant sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation of Chicago, Illinois and from the contributions of county residents. Staff members included Ruth Baker, RN, Barbara Glossip, LPN, Patti Hansen (VanTuinen), Health Educator, and Shirley Matney (Stumpff), receptionist. A group called Stone County Health Services, Inc. served as the governing body with Wayne Spainhour, Stone County Surveyor, serving as president.
The primary goal of the health center was to enhance and maintain good health in Stone County. Services were provided throughout the county to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health problems. With a doctor’s prescription, services also included iron and vitamins for babies, allergy shots, immunizations (except mumps), and home visits for individuals with TB and cancer. Health education was given for home teaching of self-care, for programs in schools, and for service clubs. Residents were encouraged to visit the health center for free literature and information on various health topics. Within one month of opening the doors, the health center staff worked with local volunteer doctors and nurses to inoculate over 3,000 individuals for Swine Flu.
On September 27, 1977, a planning workshop dealing with a comprehensive health instruction program was held at the health center. The project was the first countywide program of this nature in Missouri. Participants in the planning session included personnel from Missouri Division of Health, Missouri Dairy Council, State Board of Education, and local consultants. The workshop was held on November 2, 1977 to familiarize Stone County’s school personnel with the future health education program for children from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
In February 1978 the health center staff began the petition drive to establish a permanent health department supported by a county tax levy. Citizens of the county were skeptical about voting for a tax increase they voted it down in 1971 and 1974. Questions were asked such as is this something new, or just another bureaucracy? Citizens also wanted to know who would run the health center and if the establishment would cause more government regulation in the area of sanitation. The slogan for the tax levy effort was, “A DIME AIN’T MUCH”--- most residents would be taxed $5.00 or less each year to support the health center.
April 5, 1978 brought excitement to the health center staff when county residents overwhelming supported the tax levy under Chapter 205 of the Missouri Revised Statutes; approximately 82% of the voters were in favor of the health center. Programs were gradually added to serve the county residents. In July 1978 a Family Planning Clinic was added, as well as a babysitter-training course. In February 1979 Stone County was approved to participate in the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program. In the early 1980’s the staff of Stone County Health Center traveled into Taney County to provide WIC services to Taney County residents. The staff continued to provide these services until the Taney County Health Department assumed the WIC caseload in 1996. Other services that began in 1979 included pre-natal classes, senior citizen clinics and a monthly Child Health Clinic that was offered in two county locations. In the early 1980’s the office hours were extended to 10-hour days, five days a week in order to provide more comprehensive services to the county residents.
In April 1982 the Stone County Health Center building located on the square in Galena was purchased from the Stone County Health Services, Inc. The main office of the current health department is still located in this building and was renovated in August 1992 to add an environmental section with a laboratory. The building has a long history in Stone County, as it was previously a grocery store, physicians’ office, and lastly the Pin Ball Palace immediately before becoming the health department (the sign was still in the hall closet of the building). The most recent “find” during a 2005 spring-cleaning was the cash register thought to be from the grocery store days.
Throughout the next twenty years the health center staff continued to provide home visits to residents who did not qualify for home health services and to new mothers, as well as making routine visits to parents who lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome. Every child enrolled in the Child Health Clinic was visited in the home once a year and provided with parental counseling, immunization counseling, hearing screening, and a developmental screening. Nurses traveled to every school to provide hearing screening, scoliosis screening, immunizations, and health education.
The environmental program was added in February 1992 providing inspections for food service businesses, consultation on private wells and sewage disposal. Lodging inspections were added with the booming growth of tourism in the county. Eventually streams and lake water quality surveillance was added, as well as education to food handlers and septic system installers, and private well water testing.
On July 3, 1997 the ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially open the second office of the health center located in the southern end of the county. Services were limited to WIC three days a month, immunizations two days a week, well-water testing kits, and seasonal flu shots. The office had a full-time receptionist, a registered nurse two days a week, and WIC nutritionist three days a month. In January 2005 the second office began to offer full services. A second ribbon cutting ceremony was held on May 5, 2008 to commemorate the purchase of a building for the south location.
The health department continues to grow with the two offices offering all services to over 35,000 Stone County residents and over 60,000 guests on any one day. It is staffed with three registered nurses, two nutritionists, three environmental public health specialist, seven support staff,a health educator, an administrator, a financial consultant, and a medical consultant. The Board of Trustees continues to govern the health department, with one member that is a previous county commissioner, one is a registered nurse, one a school counselor,one retired teacher, and the board chair, Phyllis Knapp, who has the distinction of being a board member for the past 25 years.
In 2006 a new logo was developed and incorporated into a new brochure utilizing WIC Enhancement Funding. A marketing consultant was hired to publicize the WIC program through radio and newspapers and develop the brochure. The marketing consultant also developed an informational presentation for staff to use throughout the county to educate residents on the benefits of public health.
In the spring of 2008 the health department’s official web site www.stonecountyhealthdepartment.com was launched. A grant was obtained through the Missouri Foundation of Health to serve the 18-year and older uninsured population by providing an annual examination and diagnostic blood work. The Regional Public Health Emergency Planning and Preparedness, and the Community Pandemic Preparedness Planning contracts were obtained through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to initiate a comprehensive emergency response program with the Stone County Emergency Management Agency. Collaboration with the Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc has been strengthened to form a cohesive environmental program to protect the lake and streams. The Administrator and Board of Trustees have an excellent working relationship with the County Commissioners through enhanced communication and collaboration to serve the public.
With over 22,600 contacts made in the year 2011 the Stone County Health Department continues to strive to better serve the people who live in and visit Stone County by providing services to prevent, promote, and protect the public’s health.