Ewing Board of Health discusses flu; approves College professor as health supervisor

The Ewing Board of Health convened on Tuesday, Jan. 29 with a number of items on its agenda, including discussion of the flu epidemic and the approval of Sharen Clugston’s contract as supervisor of health services for Ewing Township’s Health Office.

According to Township Attorney Maeve Cannon, every municipality is required to enlist the aid of a supervisor for health services. Clugston, a nursing professor at the College, will receive a maximum of $9,000, as the town has allocated that amount toward soliciting her help on an as-needed basis.

More relevant to the current wintry season, however, was Health Officer Virginia Franco’s report on Ewing’s influenza clinic activities.

“We are now in early outbreak season,” Franco said, asserting the significance of a recent clinic which was able to dole out 57 anti-flu vaccinations to uninsured residents.  The vaccine this year reduces all flu symptoms as well as outbreaks by approximately 60 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since there is no hospital in Ewing, Franco made the case that it is supremely important to the health of the town to utilize the most efficient manner of distributing these vaccines.  In fact, in 2012, Ewing’s health office gave out a total of 1,749 flu vaccines, and Franco made it clear that this year a proper cost analysis will be conducted in order to reduce the surplus of vaccines the town receives.

“We want just enough to give out,” Franco said in reference to the cost analysis that is forthcoming for the comprehensive 2012 annual report on all Health Office activities.

Another main goal for 2013 that Franco highlighted is the implementation of more cross-training for the Health Office nurses.  This means employing the time and expertise of staff members to train other professionals in the office in skills outside of their specialties.

“We have such a limited number of staff members,” Franco said, explaining that cross-training would guarantee a better-rounded staff on duty at all times.  Although nurses in the health office conduct monthly health clinics and occasional home visits, not all the nurses are trained in such areas such as communicable diseases—which are especially prevalent during the winter.

Franco explained that the cross-training will function so that “if someone is off one day, they can chip in” and help teach the other staff members in their health specialty.

Council President Hilary Hyser also brought up during the meeting a concern facing many Ewing residents: that is, the “burgeoning deer population.”

Business Administrator James McManimon presented to the public and the council that he had recently put in a request for several deer crossing signs, which would ostensibly make drivers aware of the issue at hand.

As one Ewing resident cleverly retorted, “deer can’t read signs.”  Nonetheless, McManimon and the Ewing Council ensured the public audience last night that they are going to continue their efforts towards protecting the residents of Ewing on all fronts.