Health department to add contract positions

Some assistance may soon be on the way to the Bartholomew County Health Department in addressing COVID-19 issues within local schools.

The health department’s nursing division has received a $330,000 grant intended to allow them to provide two-year contracts for up to three new workers, nursing division director Amanda Organist said.

The grant was obtained through the Crisis Cooperative Agreement Supplemental Workforce in Schools program, which is administered through the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Emergency Preparedness Division.

If qualified individuals can be found, the division will hire nurses to work weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But if no qualified nurses apply, the division would consider those with a public health background, Organist said.

”We can use these funds for whatever else we might need, so I think it will also help fund COVID vaccine clinics and testing,” the nursing division director said.

It would be the responsibility of these new workers to help ensure that all schools within the county are properly reporting their COVID-positive cases, Organist said. Those schools include 18 campuses within the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., two in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. and seven private schools.

These workers would also assist in keeping school officials up to date regarding where testing or vaccines are available, the nursing division director said.

Based on the population of Bartholomew County, state health and emergency preparedness officials recommended that the nursing division use the grant money to hire a total of three additional workers, Organist said. Some of the money is also expected to fund computers or other technology to assist the new hires, she said.

But unless there is an extension, the three positions will only be funded for two years, Organist said. The new hires will be considered contract workers, which means none will receive benefits available to regular, full-time county employees.

While the nursing division director says she knows one qualified individual who is an excellent candidate for one of the positions, she didn’t seem optimistic about the prospects of finding others capable of filling the other two positions.

However, she did receive permission from the Bartholomew County Council to transfer $20,680 from one account to another so it can be added to the salaries of contract employees.

Organist says she’s been trying to do all the work with the schools herself, and has recently completed a needs assessment for each one located in Bartholomew County.

“It’s a lot for one person to help with all the reporting and what not,” Organist said. ” I would appreciate any help I can get.