Grant will help UCHD spread radon awareness


The Union County Health Department (UCHD) accepted its notice of award for a $60,000 grant for radon education from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) at Wednesday’s meeting.
The radon education program, which has been implemented for more than 15 years, aims to teach homeowners and real estate agents about the dangers of radon leaks in homes. This grant would help fund the education program until next September.
“The Ohio Department of Health is giving us $60,000 to cover Union, plus 16 other counties, with radon education,” said UCHD public information officer Jennifer Thrush. “Out of the $60,000, this is how we’re divvying it out to other counties to make sure we continue radon education.”
Thrush said since 2016, Union County has been in contracts with 16 other counties to ensure they have funding, from the ODH, for radon education. Union County serves the northwestern part of Ohio, with Licking County serving the southeastern portion. She said before 2016, Union County used to be a subgrantee to Seneca County.
The counties that are subgrantees to Union County include Montgomery, Champaign, Hardin, Logan, Madison, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Preble, Franklin, Marion, Mercer, Auglaize, Shelby and Pickaway.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved entering into contracts with some of these counties for radon education via “indoor radon programs.” The board said there will be more contracts in upcoming meetings.
From Oct., 2017, to Sept., 2018, Union County will fund a $12,000 contract with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, a $6,000 contract with Mercer County Health District, a $3,000 contract with Franklin County Public Health and a $3,000 contract with Marion Public Health.
Thrush said another relationship Union County has with these counties includes the fact Union County produces the advertising and education ideas while the other counties implement those ideas and advertising materials.
She said the benefit of other counties contracting through Union County includes the county being able to make a decision, with one fund, split among counties, rather than the state having to allocate funds to each county. However, she said, if residents wish to receive a radon test kit, they would have to contact the ODH for one, but their local health department will assist them in finding and filling out the application.
Thrush said radon is a naturally occurring radioactive element, a colorless and odorless gas. in the soil, and it sometimes seeps into people’s houses from their basements and into their ventilation. Since it’s a carcinogen that is the second leading cause to lung cancer, she said it’s been an important issue for health departments in Ohio to issue funding to educate homeowners and real estate agents.
Also at the meeting, the UCHD board said its GuardCare event last weekend was a success, which featured 150 National Guardsmen providing free medical services to almost 300 residents in and outside the county. Planning for the event started in 2012, but the UCHD had been “pigeonholed” to August, conflicting with a lot of local events, such as the All Ohio Balloon Fest.
“What we’re trying to emphasize with our GuardCare event was the role we have in protecting folks from disease and ensuring they have access to health care,” said UCHD health commissioner Jason Orcena.
Orcena said the three major partners who contributed to the event included the Ohio National Guard, Memorial Health and the ODH. He said the ODH provided a small cash donation and all the nearly $150,000 worth of vaccines used, but the vaccines were only provided because of the GuardCare program. Memorial Health provided a $10,000 donation for lab testing.
According to a press release, GuardCare was brought to Union County because of these five health concerns: the rate of uninsured children in Union County was higher than the state’s rate; nearly half of all local emergency room visits were by “populations with financial barriers preventing them from seeking primary care”; vaccine-preventable disease rates were higher in Union County than state averages; sexually transmitted infection rates in Union County were higher than state averages; and Union County infant mortality rates were higher than state rates.
The board said it was proud to be able to get free healthcare to those in financial need in Union County.

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