OLEAN - Ninety years ago, an experiment of a demonstration program opened operation and continued to be an example of public health operations around the world. Exceeding its original seven-year mission, set for 1923-29, the Cattaraugus County Health Department is still alive and going strong, according to department officials.
The department is made up of seven major areas of work, Nursing, Environmental, Education, Early Care, WIC, Laboratory and Emergency preparedness, with the largest being the home care nursing division. Home care is divided into two areas, Certified Home Health Agency and Long-Term Home Health Care Program.
According to Dr. Kevin Watkins, county public health director, a total of 61,028 visits were made to county residents that were in need of services in 2013. That number is up from 59,900 in 2012. The programs to help manage care for individuals at home has become a partnership with area hospitals, Watkins said.
"We are working with the hospitals to mitigate the number of admissions through home health care," he said. The move is an effort to help reduce costs of care for those in need of care for both, insurances and hospital facilities.
Another service that has seen a marked decrease for the health department fall in the community health sector. Watkins said the number of positive teen pregnancy tests have decreased in county clinics. According to published numbers, clinics have seen those numbers fall from 40 positive tests in 2009 to just 17 in 2013. Watkins said there are a couple causes that may contribute to that fall.
"The decrease follows the national trend in teen pregnancies," Watkins said. "Another possibility is that we are not seeing as many visits to our clinics, with insurance carriers moving that population more to family physicians."
The annual report also showed a decrease in the number of rabies post exposure treatments. In 2012, the public health clinics in Olean, Salamanca and Machias saw a total of 28 treatments. That number fell to 27 in 2013. The suspected animal culprits creating the nee for treatment in 2013 were 15 bats, two raccoons, three dogs, six cats and a gray fox.
To combat the exposure potential of rabies in the county, five clinics were conducted throughout the county with 1,507 dogs, 663 cats and 19 ferrets given vaccination doses. Another 224 were given to the SPCA in Cattaraugus County and 557 were given to the Olean area-based Joyful Rescues.
According to Dr. Watkins, the county health department is doing a good job in keeping with their budget. The department collected $11,499,548 in revenue, mostly from fees for services. That same amount was spent in 2013.