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Commissioners Receive an Update on County Communicable Disease Program

By Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday night, due to the Labor Day Holiday, and heard an update regarding the County’s Communicable Disease program.

Sheila Rains, who serves as the County Communicable Disease Nurse, addressed the board regarding the program. She shared some statistics regarding sexually transmitted diseases and other communicable diseases in Bladen County.

“The numbers are about the same as last year for Bladen County,” said Rains.

She told the board that this year, the County has seen five reported cases of HIV. Rains said that figure includes the physician’s offices and the patients seen at the health department.

Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins mentioned educating the public regarding these diseases, and Rains said the health department does do that. Rains explained that she and another nurse at the health department educate people visiting the health department regarding these diseases, and they also go out into the community as well.

Commissioner Munn-Goins asked about the age range of the patients with sexually transmitted diseases, and Rains said they range from 16 to 26, and the health department has seen youth as young as 12 years old and as old as 60 years old.

“We don’t like to see the ones that are 12 coming through. That is never a good thing,” said Rains.

“You had mentioned something about going out into the community, is that for educational purposes?” asked Commissioner Author Bullock.

Rains said the Health Department reaches out through the doctor’s offices. She said they pass out literature to all the physicians and attempt to do some education through that avenue. She said the Health Department has limited staff, so they are very busy.

Commissioner Mike Cogdell then asked, “With these numbers, are they higher than they were last year?”

Rains said, “When they are high, we are kind of glad to see more numbers because we are treating more. We know that it (sexually transmitted diseases) is out there and a lot of them are not coming in for treatment.”

She said they do give out free condoms at the health department, and they can come in and receive them.

Rains focused her presentation on tuberculosis, which the County has two reported cases.

“When people hear the word ‘tuberculosis’ they think that happens in another country; that is not true,” said Rains.

According to Rains, some of our neighboring counties have had as many as five cases of tuberculosis.

She said the work in treating the cases is tremendous. Rains said tuberculosis affects everyone with whom the patient has contact. She said caring for the patient involves home visits once the patient is  discharged from the hospital.

“A lot of these patients do not want to let you inside [their home] because of immigration or some other reasons. They are scared. They see a county car come up, and they are like ‘I don’t want to see you,’” said Rains.

She said sometimes there is a language barrier, and, sometimes, the test for tuberculosis is done at the home of a patient who is ill. Rains said if the test is positive, they begin treatment.

She said a patient with tuberculosis is kept in “respiratory isolation” meaning they are asked to stay at home for two months. Health Department nurses carry their medication to them and take care of their needs such as social work and other medical needs. Once they are allowed to leave their home, they continue to come to the health department for treatment.

Rains said Dr. Roxie Wells with Cape Fear Valley-Bladen Healthcare was very helpful when the health department was treating two patients at the same time this year.

In other business:

*The Commissioners recognized Lt. Tony Sessoms for his retirement. 

*Soil and Water Conservation Director, Dean Morris, presented the contract for storm debris removal on the lower South River. The low bidder was DG Jackson of Carvers Creek. The board approved the contract.

*The board declined a bid in the amount if $1,000 for a county-owned parcel of land located on Natmore Road, and they approved a bid in the amount of $2,900 for a parcel of land on Figure Nine Road.

*The board heard from Robin Hewett, Director of Computer Operations, regarding a presentation to county employees on education regarding computer viruses.

*The board met in closed session to address a matter of client-attorney privilege. No action was taken in open session.

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