09/20/07 — Health Department to increase two fees for vaccines

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Health Department to increase two fees for vaccines

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 20, 2007 1:53 PM

The Board of Health approved slight fee increases for two vaccine services Wednesday, and learned about plans to update the Health Department's computer system in the coming year.

Health Director James Roosen also announced the receipt of three grants and called a recent campaign to test for HIV a success.

Fees were raised slightly for the PPD shot, for tuberculosis. Currently, the Health Department charges $10, while providers in other areas are charging $22-25, Roosen said. He requested the charge be raised to $15.

The cost for administering the vaccine, presently $10, was also increased to $17. Roosen said at the lower rate, the department has been losing about $6 in Medicaid reimbursements.

Susie Teachey, processing unit supervisor, made a presentation about the anticipated Health Services Information System, expected to be introduced in 2008.

The current computer system, while still functional, was created in 1983, she said.

"It has become obsolete in some areas where we need assistance," she said.

The state has been working for several years to upgrade the database, she said, and are "now in the short rows" toward accomplishing that.

Wayne County has been selected as one of six counties chosen for the pilot project, she said. The new computerized system for record-keeping and billing could be brought in as early as April, with hopes it will be fully operational by the end of the year.

The newer system is expected to improve services, increasing data sharing locally and across the state and would allow for online processing of lab results.

"We're constantly looking for lab results, trying to answer questions over the phone," Roosen said. "(With the new database) you could collect it and put it right in the system. Lab results, for example, would immediately go into the system, be available for access."

The capacity for automated billing and claims processing would also improve efficiency, Ms. Teachey said.

"I'm exciting about it. It looks like it's really going to benefit public health...will capture areas we're not currently able to capture," she said.

Three grants obtained from the state will address Wayne County's ability to implement a non-pharmaceutical intervention to control communicable disease, help educate factions of the public about healthy eating and toward mosquito control.

The $10,000 grant from Research Triangle Institute, Roosen said, will be used to study "how well Wayne County understands non-pharmaceutical distancing -- not going to work when you're sick, frequent hand-washing. In other words, how to control disease without using a vaccine because we may not have a vaccine."

A $13,250 grant from "Eat Smart Move More" will support an education program on how to prevent chronic disease by eating right and exercising.

Environmental Health also received a $4,500 grant to better educate homeowners and homeowner associations on how to control mosquitos in residential areas and better track areas that have been treated and where there are problems, Roosen said.

Roosen also gave an update on the Sept. 14 free "Get Real Get Tested" program. He said it produced a good public response, with 312 tested for HIV and syphilis over the four-hour period.

"It was amazing. Evelyn (Coley, director of nursing) and I went out and saw how people were convincing these folks to get tested," he said. "We were able to test a lot of people who were probably not aware of their HIV status. ... This will assist in our treatment of HIV in Wayne County."

Roosen said the test results should be back within a few weeks.