Where was state help in meningitis response?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Neither Kim Rupp, Cherokee County health nurse, nor Aimee Barritt, county emergency management coordinator and environmental health director, were pleased with comments from state health officials in a recent meeting with them.

Rupp told the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that state officials asked what they could do to help with the meningitis problem experienced in Cherokee County.

"It's a little late now," Rupp said.

The county handled the massive amount of calls and held clinics at which nearly 300 meningitis shots were given - without manpower help from the state - following the death of an Aurelia student and two other illnesses.

"Now it's all about the mumps," Rupp said about the state health department focus.

Barritt was most angered by a suggestion that the Cherokee County officials be self-critical, explaining how not only the state but the county people could have responded more effectively.

"I don't know of anything more we could have possibly done. We handled the situation. We could have just used a little help from the state," Barritt said.

Barritt reported that state officials are considering recommendations that would increase the educational requirements for people in Barritt's position and Rupp's position. Fortunately for Cherokee County, these educational requirements are satisfied but Barritt said the requirements could result in increased expense for some counties along with less service.

"It smells of regional design," Rupp stated.

Barritt said that in one 10 county district where food inspection is under the direction of a single entity, the public is not being well served.

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