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New Board of Public Health Adopts By-Laws, Elects Vice Chair

September 4, 2013

Originally published Nov. 14, 2011

On Tuesday, November 8, Georgia’s Board of Public Health convened to adopt by-laws, elect a vice chair, and discuss public health initiatives. In a previous meeting, the Board elected Gary Nelson, PhD as the chair. The Board unanimously elected Kathryn K. Cheek, MD, FAAP as the new vice chair.

General Counselor Sid Barrett presented the board previously with a draft of by-laws modeled after those of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). The Board unanimously adopted the by-laws after some clarification on issues such as terms of service and conflicts of interest.

Janie Brodnax, Chief Operations Officer, presented on all the facilities owned and leased by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), including state administrative offices, district administrative offices, and state laboratories. Georgia Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) Director Elizabeth A. Franko, DrPH, further presented on Georgia’s laboratory facilities. In FY11, Georgia received nearly 600,000 specimens and did nearly 8 million exams in its laboratories. With the majority of this testing done at the Central Laboratory in Decatur, Dr. Franko expressed the need for updates to the regional laboratories in Waycross and Albany. Ideally, she said, the goal is to have centrally located laboratories in north and south Georgia to better balance out the workload the labs carry out.

Kathryn Pfirman, Chief Financial Officer, presented on the Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant, which is currently available for review and public comment. The PHHS Block Grant is a flexible funding source provided by the federal government. It allows DPH to allocate funds to programs where needed. DPH was slated to receive $3,088,809 in FY11 from the PHHS Block Grant. However, in the 4th quarter of FY11, funding was drastically cut to $2,370,084. Pfirman reviewed all of the areas DPH currently allocated PHHS Block Grant funds, with the majority of the funds being allocated to hypertension management (25%), emergency preparedness (24%), and immunization (19%). She then reviewed how DPH plans to allocate money to make up for the cut in funds.

Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, reported to the Board about grant-in-aid distribution among Georgia counties. The formula to determine how money is allocated among counties has not changed since 1970. With the exponential growth that the state has seen, there is a need to expeditiously update this formula. Dr. Fitzgerald explained the breakdown of the new grant-in-aid formula with 40 percent based upon population, another 40 percent based upon the number of people in that population living in poverty, and the remaining 20 percent would be determined by the poverty ratio. Top public health faculty at the University of Georgia and others are reviewing the new policy.

The Board will convene the second Tuesday of each month in the afternoon. PHWEEK will post meeting times and locations in our PHEVENTS section.