County will get fundsto combat bioterrorism

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 5, 2002

Mower County will receive $38,603 to prepare for local disasters, including possible bioterrorism attacks.

Margene Gunderson, director of the county's community health services, told the Mower County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, "the money will be used to enhance our response to bioterrorism and infections disease threats."

The homeland security effort will give Mower County a "24/7 alert capacity," according to Gunderson.

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The money comes from the federal government through the Minnesota Department of Health.

The commissioners gave unanimous approval to Gunderson's request they enter into an agreement to receive the public health preparedness and response to bioterrorism grant.

Also Tuesday,

the commissioners agreed to accept a Family Home Visiting Program and TANF Youth Risk Behavior Program grant

Gunderson will act as the planning director for the money from the MDH.

The program will provide public health home visiting and teen pregnancy prevention services.

Gunderson announced

a new clinic will be held Aug. 23 to allow parents to vaccinate children.

Children's immunization continues to be a high priority of both the state and local government agencies, according to Gunderson.

No fee schedules were also approved Tuesday, although Gunderson admitted the county seldom collects the full amount and receives only what parents can pay on the sliding fee schedule.

She also had information for the county commissioners from the latest community health assessment survey.

According to Gunderson, the life expectancy of men has increased to 76.5 years and for women it has increased to 81.5 years in Mower County.

The county's population now includes five percent minorities from the previous 1.5 percent figure, according to the U.S. Census.

Women, Infant and Children assistance has increased in the county.

Also, the county's teen pregnancies and births total 15 each year with the county slightly behind the state's average of 23.9 compared to 24.6 per 1,000.

Mothers ages 18 and 19 are at the highest risk for pregnancy and Mower County teenage women this age exceed the state average 83.9 to 74, according to Gunderson

Also, Mower County has a higher percentage of unwed mothers than the state average. However, Gunderson added, "More of them are keeping their children."

As Gunderson told the commissioners of the community health assessment's results, she had good news about local immunization efforts.

"We're doing better on improving the levels of immunization," she said. "For instance, the immunizations of 2-year-olds have gone from 65 to 80 percent

Len Miller, 4th district county commissioner and chairman of the board, was among those with questions for Gunderson.

She concluded her presentation telling the commissioners that hypertension and overweight were health risks that put Mower County residents "slightly above the state average."

Lastly, she concluded that diabetes is the health risk behavior of the most concern to public health officials. Gunderson called it a "humongous" problem.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at