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MILLERSBURG -- Holmes County Health Commissioner Michael Derr opened the January meeting with a brief presentation recognizing the work of one of the agency's employees.
Cathy Kick was recognized for her dedicated service, earning the employee spotlight.
"Cathy has been been with us for some time and what stands out most is the work that she puts in," Derr said. "Most recently, she coordinated the septic installers program. She pretty much organized that program for our agency.
"She serves as the glue in the Environmental Health Department," the health commissioner added. "It seems like everyone scrambles a little bit when she's not able to be there. We just want to show our appreciation and our thanks for all her hard work."
Falls Prevention Coordinator Kerry MacQueen gave a presentation to the board.
MacQueen has developed a new program that is in place and wanted to bring it to the board's attention.
"Colonial Manor HealthCare in Loudonville is where I came from," MacQeen said. "I used my connection with Colonial Manor to go into that facility to run a special program.
"I worked in long-term care for over 20 years, and with that being said, falls are a huge issue," she continued. "Nursing homes have falls prevention programming, but the committee meets after a fall has occurred. There's no real prevention educating the residents, and that is what this program is all about; empowering the resident to look at safety, their own safety, instead of being educated after the fall occurs."
MacQueen said she wants to prevent the falls from happening and also want to educate the residents to be as independent as possible.
"Anyone who has to go into long-term care loses their independence," she said. "They feel everything is taken away from them. This program empowers them to be independent while living dependently."
She said that the whole idea behind this is that working with alert and oriented individuals, once the program gets rolling, they will see how it can be adapted for patients with Alzheimer's and or dementia.
MacQueen has developed documentation where the resident would take control of their fall-free life.
"With this long-term care program, we have living quarters safety," MacQueen said. "Every quarter residents will go through a checklist that empowers them to look at their surroundings.
"Many individuals living in nursing homes feel they have nothing left to live for," she continued. "I'm providing not only a special program to prevent falls, but making their quality of life one they thought they would never have."
The checklist serves as a tool for staff at the nursing home to see if things need to be fixed.
"Just because they are living in a long-term facility does not mean they stop living," MacQueen said. "Just because they need 24-hour nursing care doesn't mean they stop living."
A commitment letter lists the different things they will be involved in and committed to follow through with, such as falls-prevention education, daily physical activity and asking for assistance, as well as watching out for other people.
"They sign and date the commitment letter, which gives them control of their life," MacQueen said. "It is important to reach out to primary care physicians."
MacQueen pointed out that residents don't like to admit anything is wrong because the more that is wrong, the more independence is taken away.
"My program is trying to provide the residents opportunity to develop a relationship with their doctor," she said. "In long-term care, the nurse is usually the go-between, but in wellness visits, the resident actually talks with the doctor about their needs."
MacQueen's proposal has been accepted by the Ohio Health Care Association to be presented at the annual convention in May.
After three months, we will review the progress of the program and that's when we will begin to approach the long-term health care facilities in Holmes County.
"Falls in nursing homes is a huge thing, and we want to combat that," she added. "No matter where you live, we want our citizens to be safe."
Board member Paul Miller pointed out that with a little tweaking, the commitment letter could be good for the many individuals who live independently.
"All if those people are in custodial care of professionals," Miller said. "All of us living independently are just scouting around."
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.