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County honored for immunization efforts
Health department benefits from grants
new deh county update 6-23-16 pic web
The Barton County Health Department was recently honored for its efforts to improve immunization rates. - photo by Tribune file photo

The information about the Barton County Health Department was part of County Administrator Richard Boeckman’s bi-weekly departmental update Monday morning. Other highlights included:

Health Director County Engineer Barry McManaman

• Provided information to the Division of Water Resources for a bridge project completed in 2014.

• Met with the Kirkham Michael and Associates of Ellsworth representative to discuss possible bridge deck repair candidate.

• Corresponded with the State Historical Society about photographic documentation required for bridge 650 north of Beaver.

Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips 

Road and Bridge

• Staff completed six culvert projects and continues work in the Beaver area repairing two other crossroad culverts under the asphalt.

• One large culvert entrance was installed south of Olmitz. The ditch right of way was cleaned.

• Sign work continued as need. One stop sign was replaced as a result of vandalism.

• Asphalt work was completed in the Beaver area. Crews moved north of Hoisington to begin overlay work.

• Mowing continues in eastern and southern Barton County. The first pass should be completed by July 1. The second pass will begin thereafter.

Noxious Weed

• Musk Thistle spraying and enforcement efforts continued.

• Right of way spraying continued daily.

• Mechanical work keeping sprayers going has been a challenge. 

Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock

In the last reporting period, the Barton County Landfill took in:

• 964 tons of municipal solid waste

• 358 tons of construction/demolition waste

• 99 tons of special waste

• 694 loads of waste received for disposal

• $52,448.23 of revenue generated through disposal fees

The Landfill has many good reuse items that have been recycled through the household hazardous waste program and they are available at no cost. Visit for a listing of accepted items at the collections.

For information regarding recycling, household hazardous waste, or regular household waste, call the landfill at 620-793-1898.

Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller

Miller attended a presentation on June 3 about the Anderson Creek Fire, the largest wildfire recorded in the State of Kansas. The wildfire, before it was contained, burned over 367,000 acres in Barber County during the last days of March 2016. The Barber County Emergency Manager, Jerry McNamar, discussed the challenges and lessons learned during the wildfire. 

Over 140 fire departments responded to help fight the wildfire, and with a handful of exceptions, volunteer fire departments and firefighters provided the manpower to bring the fire under control. With so many individuals and equipment involved in the response, accountability became a massive responsibility for the Incident Management Team. Accountability of individuals and equipment is a must for the safety of emergency responders. 

McNamar also discussed the resources available from the Kansas Forest Service during a wildfire situation and the utilization of black hawk helicopters with water buckets from the Kansas Army National Guard. The fire area was placed under a Temporary Flight Restriction while the helicopters were making water drops.

 Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider attended the State Immunization Conference in Salina where the county received an award for “Outstanding Effort in Turning Around the Immunization Program.”

“Back in October 2015, we changed the procedure for immunization efforts and it did not come without some growing pains,” Schneider told the County Commission Monday morning. However, within a month Barton County had one of the most successful Programs in the State of Kansas. 

One thing new the BCHD did was to hold its first Step Right Up immunization carnival last summer. Health Department personnel were dressed in costumes, and there were games, popcorn and a prize drawing.

“It was the way that we did things,” Schneider said. The immunization number did climb, but the honor was more for the carnival and how the department, on short notice, revamped how it entered its immunization data in an “out-of-the-box” manner.

“They labeled it a best practice,” she said.

Because of these efforts, the department received an all-expense paid trip to Atlanta, Ga., for the National Immunization Conference. One member of the department will attend in September.

In addition, Barton County has been awarded the Children with Special Health Care Needs Regional Office and the Children with Special Health Care Needs Pilot Grant totaling $29,000. “This is very exciting because it may lead to more opportunities for not only the children with special health care needs, but this will bring clients into Barton County,” Schneider said. 

This covers children suffering from a wide variety of disorders, a lot of which are not common. “These are diseases that require a lot of case management,” Schneider said.

When she applied, she looked at the catchment area of local pediatricians and included seven counties. “This is definitely a population that is under served,” she said.

This will be a lot of work for the BCHD, but it will be worth it. For many of these parents, neither their insurance or Medicaid will cover the expenses.

And when these families come to Great Bend, the will receive care and support, and have the opportunity to shop here as well. 

“This is a pilot project and we can tweak it a bit,” Schneider said. “There are no right or wrong answers.”

In more good grant news, the county will get extra funding with an $8,000 non-match grant. Schneider said this will be used to purchase more pharmaceutical supplies for the Family Planning Program. 

“Historically, we don’t get a lot of funding for this,” Schneider said. “This is kind of a bonus gift.”

In other Health Department news:

• The Health Department held a Rabies Informational Meeting with the State Veterinarian and the State Epidemiologist. Approximately 60 attended. ‘It one sees any animals, wild or domestic, that are acting unusual for their species, they should not hesitate to call 911,” Schneider said.

• Be Well Barton County has transitioned under the umbrella of the Health Department and has been offered an opportunity for a one-time continuation Grant in the amount of $20,000. Be Well Barton County will continue with its dedication to the healthy transportation opportunities for Barton County.

• Barton County has collaborated with Clara Barton Hospital, who is the lead agency, in submitting a Letter of Intent for the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant opportunity offered by Blue Cross and BlueShield of Kansas. This could possibly bring the Northern portion of Barton County up to $315,000 in un-matched grant funding.

• Collaborating on the human trafficking issues in this community. Even though it does not present itself in the way that TV can portray, Barton County does experience human trafficking, Schneider said. “Barton County, as a community, must work to ensure no citizens are exploited.”