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Public Health to Use WDH Grant for Additional Nursing Staff

Campbell County Public Health (CCPH) wants an additional nursing staff member, and they’re preparing to use a state grant to do it.

Jane Glaser, CCPH executive director, said that the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), has offered a grant that would provide $97,000 a year, for a total of three years, to cover full-time pay and benefits for an employee that will focus on communicable diseases.

The employee would be tasked with handling sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, case management, and public education.

When the new employee is not busy with such tasks, then they would be charged with refilling the free condom dispensers staged in key locations around Gillette.

“We would be able to expand some of the services, like right now we only have the testing on Monday afternoons…I just don’t have the staff to do it,” Glaser explained.

The funds from the state would be provided through monthly reimbursements, with the county responsible for fronting the necessary cash.

The position could be just in the nick-of-time; a recent press release from the Wyoming Department of Health announced to the state that syphilis cases are on the rise, especially in Fremont County.

This year, there have been 34 cases reported; a 36 percent increase over the total number of cases reported last year.

Fremont County accounts for 38 percent of the state-wide cases.

Courtney Smith, WDH communicable disease surveillance program manager, said in a statement that the increase has sparked an alert to healthcare providers across the state, “encouraging them to promote testing and treatment with patients.”

Untreated, syphilis carries with it a number of dangerous complications such as death, paralysis, numbness, blindness, and dementia.

The STD can even be passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy and could cause miscarriage, still birth, or health problems, according to the release.

Glaser approached the board of commissioners last week, seeking and receiving their initial approval of the grant and the hiring of the employee.

The employee must be a nurse and would not be eligible for promotion above the starting position of Level I.

The original offer from the WDH was $90,000 a year for two years, but the final contract received by public health extended that time to three years, with Glaser negotiating the pay up a bit.