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April 19, 2016 • Headline News
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Local health employee receives national award

Mary Mattingly

A Ripley County health department employee received a national award for her help during a state-wide HIV emergency. Holley Rose, the public health preparedness coordinator, was honored with the Outstanding MRC (Medical Reserve Corp) Responder Award April 12. Every year the national MRC organization, an offshoot of the U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services, recognizes individuals in the field.

Holley Rose, left, was awarded the national Outstanding MRC (Medical Reserve Corp) Responder for her work with the Scott County HIV outbreak.

Rose, of Osgood, was nominated by the state for her work during the recent HIV outbreak in Scott County. She was a constant presence in the Community Outreach Center, ensuring adequate cover by volunteers and filling in as needed. She also worked with the needle exchange program operated by the Scott County Health Dept. In citing Rose, the state nomination stated, “While the work of each volunteer was appreciated, Holley’s work stood out as a shining example.”

The daughter of Wayne and Barbara Peace and married to EMA director Patrick Rose, she has worked in the public health field for 10 years, the last five years in her current role. Although the MRC was founded nationally in 2002, just after 9/11, it wasn’t until 2010 when the H1N1 outbreak occurred that Ripley County formed a chapter, under Rose’s direction. The native Ripley County resident said the local school nurses helped spread the word about the volunteer group. The county MRC unit is made up of a variety of people in various fields, ages 18 to 70 with 62 members, 15 of those with medical backgrounds. They keep up-to-date annually on training conduct drills quarterly, and can be called upon when there is a disaster or emergency. The first activation was in Holton when the tornado struck in 2012, “We hope we never have to call you!” Rose admitted, but the trained volunteers are ready if needed.

Scott County crisis
She called on local MRC volunteers to help with the Scott County health epidemic last spring. It was when the southern Indiana county and the small town of Austin was making national headlines because of the HIV epidemic. There were 89 HIV cases reported in the rural community, about an hour from this county. The majority of the cases were tied to drug use and sharing needles. Rose’s help was requested by the Indiana State Department of Health, and she became the volunteer coordinator of six MRC units there from the last week of March to first week of June. Her role was to set up online scheduling to fill volunteers in 12 hour shifts to assist with everything from needle exchange to transportation and immunization registration at the clinic. A big challenge was finding volunteers for the needle exchange distribution. It was against many volunteer’s belief because they didn’t like the idea of supporting drug users, she commented.

Scott County was the first county in the state to distribute a needle exchange. Backed by national research, the idea was to distribute clean needles to addicts to stop or reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Although she was once the district 9 public preparedness coordinator, being in Austin for the five weeks at this health crisis was an eye-opener for Rose. She saw people of all ages who were malnourished and hooked on the painkiller Opana, sharing pills, needles and syringes. Entire families and generations grew up on intravenous drug use. “One woman in her 20s told me she injected 30 times a day. When I asked when she replaced the needle, she said when it breaks in my arm!” Rose said. “I explained the risk and gave her free new needles, I went back later and she said she only used it once and it now goes in the sharp container.”

One of the issues was locating the drug users for the exchange since the health clinic was set up two to three miles outside of the downtown area. A van was arranged to pick up people to bring them to the clinic, and oftentimes, Rose and her volunteers would drive around and approach people to inform them of what services were all available. Services available included free birth certificates, state ID’s registering for HIP 2.0, vaccinations, and drug treatment referrals After the emergency declaration was no longer in effect, the state moved out and basically let Scott County run its program. Over 39,000 needles have been exchanged.

According to Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, Austin may be the first rural city to suffer from an HIV outbreak, but it probably won’t be the last. He says many small, rural areas are experiencing, along with drug abuse, “high unemployment, lower incomes and a lack of education.” Rose was appreciative of the support she had from her board, health department and local volunteers. There were over 1,021 volunteer hours valued at $23,454, according to state calculations. In hindsight, Rose says, “I’d say the volunteer coordination was a success; the rest is still an ongoing mission” Recent numbers released this week indicate the county has over 189 HIV and Hepatitis C cases; a year ago it was 89.

Lessons learned
Rose said one lesson learned from a health perspective was the role of public health is never set in stone. “It’s a very different role, one where we looked at the whole person and how we could help.” That might be Medicaid or HIP assistance, immunizations, birth registrations to drug programs. She believes there is a need in Ripley County for folks to get answers to their health insurance questions. Also, through this experience, she sees the need for providing counseling for the volunteers and workers when they are on call. Rose knows from experience it’s draining and all-consuming, but you need time to talk and decompress. She partners with Janice Hosmer and CISM Critical Incidence Management Crisis team to add the mental health capability for future events The thinking is the health crisis could spread to nearby counties, but Rose said she’d like to see better tracking of HIV cases, which would help in justifying additional programs. Meanwhile, the health department is offering Hepatitis C and HIV testing twice a month for free and there is a free clinic in Batesville that also offers it.

Local Bulletin Board

April 22 at Crossroads Restaurant
Luke Messer in Versailles Friday
Congressman Luke Messer of the 6th District will be taking his 2016 “Coffee with the Congressman” tour to Versailles on Friday, April 22. This is an opportunity for residents of Ripley County and the surrounding area to ask Messer questions about issues important to them and get updates on what’s happening in Congress. All “Coffee with the Congressman” stops are open to the public and the press. He will be at Crossroads Restaurant on US 50 from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Ripley County is included in the 6th district congressional office. Messer is running for re-election.

Deadline: April 30, 2016
Tarter-Crum trusts applications accepted
Applications for donations from the Frank Tarter Community Trust and the Ray Herman and Louise Herman Crum Community Trust may be submitted by tax exempt organizations from the Osgood and the surrounding area. Due to IRS regulations, only non-profit organizations are eligible to receive funds from the trust. For more details read the front page of the Osgood Journal dated April 12.

Deadline: May 3
Cross Plains Community grant requests
The Cross Plains Community Granting Committee will meet Thursday, May 5 at 6 p.m. at the Cross Plains Methodist Church to review grant requests. The meeting is open to the public. Any non profit organization including cemetaries within the Cross Plains zip code can request a grant from the Cross Plains Community Granting Fund, which is an endowment fund with the Ripley Co. Community Foundation. See more information on the front page of the Osgood Journal dated April 12.

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