Jefferson County Health Department hires new medical director

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Health Department board on Tuesday approved the hiring of Dr. Jane Culp as the department’s medical director.

Culp, a Richmond resident who specializes in infectious diseases, will replace Dr. Frank J. Petrola, who retired at the end of May after 25 years with the health department.

The medical director provides clinical supervision of health department activities and works with communities in the county to assure expectations for public health services are met.

Petrola had been serving as medical director and health commissioner. The board decided at its May meeting to have two separate people serving in those posts. The board interviewed candidates for both positions, but has not made a decision about hiring a health commissioner.

Nicole Balakos, health board president, said Culp will be paid $50,000 a year.

Balakos thanked Petrola for his dedicated years of service to the health department.

Marc Maragos, health department environmental health director, and Carla Gampolo, sanitarian, announced Apex Landfill had been sent a notice of four violations. Balakos and health department staff went to the landfill on June 12 during the evening, which turned into a site inspection because of the alleged violations.

Maragos and Gampolo said the landfill violations include: Ponding of water, not having adequate daily cover, two working operating faces and leachate exposed on one of the slopes. They said the landfill will have two weeks to develop a plan to correct the noted violations.

Fritz Tulencik, who lives near the landfill and has been vocal about its odors, said the methane gas odor from the landfill was very bad on Monday. Maragos said he called the landfill about the methane gas odor complaints, and had not received a call back from the facility as of the meeting.

Maragos said 70 complaints were received in May about the landfill, with 15 so far this month. He said seven complaints were received on Monday.

Terry Bell, health board member, asked about the cost of a portable methane gas reader to test the levels. Maragos said the equipment costs $15,000, but the health department might be able to borrow a portable reader from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Kim Mark, health department nursing director, said a $35,000 state health department grant was received to do HIV testing.

Mark said Jefferson County was considered a high-risk area because of the needle use by drug addicts and the homelessness.

Mark said the state will provide all the materials needed for the testing, and the state will take care of follow-up appointments and medication.

She said the county health department will be able to do testing five days a week, beginning in August. She said the grant is renewable.

Mark said the health department will do outreach in high-risk areas, such as people who visit Urban Mission Ministries and the Friendship Room.

Mark said there have been nine confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the county so far this year, compared to no cases last year. She said drug users and the homeless are at risk of getting hepatitis A.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water, the CDC reported. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection, the CDC reported.

Mark said she wants to partner with restaurants about getting shots to prevent hepatitis A. She said Applebee’s has its employees get immunizations.

Mark said she is developing an outreach program for high-risk areas.