The Audrain County Health Department celebrated paying off their new building as well as the accomplishments of two employees during a board of directors meeting held last Wednesday.
ACHD Administrator Sandra Hewlett presented the deed to Board Chair Faye Fairchild as it was officially paid off in November.
The building was purchased in May 2013.
Early last year, the staff began taking budget cutting measures to focus on paying off the lease purchase agreement.
Two employees were also recognized during the event.
Audrain County Health Department’s (ACHD) Environmental Health Specialist, Sarah Palmer, was recognized by Sandra Hewlett, MS, APRN, AOCN, FACHE, Administrator, and the Audrain County Board of Health at its November meeting for her work with the department’s Lagoon and Sewage treatment program and for the significant progress that she has made toward her degree in Environmental Public Health.
“Sarah worked for years as a clerk in the Environmental Health Department,” Hewlett explained. “When she assumed on her current role, we very much needed to ensure people obtained permits and had proper sewers and lagoons put in by State-approved registered installers. Sarah has done an excellent job advocatfor our residents and education plumbers and registered installers as to the State requirements and our county Ordinance. Audrain County residents know they can count on Sarah to protect their real estate interests.”
Hewlett says it’s not just the property owners who have noticed the job Palmer has been doing.
“There are many leaders, public health colleagues from contiguous counties, installers, plumbers, and residents that have also developed a newfound respect for Sarah,” Hewlett continued. “They’re consulting with her more and more, and certainly view her as a content expert.”
However, Palmer says it was Hewlett that drove her to be a better employee.
“I have the world’s best role model,” Palmer said. “She has given me, and built in me, a huge responsibility that I take very seriously. One, because I live in this county and two, because it’s a goal of mine to help and serve people in the county I live in. To have that role model who deals with me one-on-one, answers my questions, deals with my phone calls in the middle of the night with cases, it’s been wonderful and has made my transition that much easier.” Sarah and Hewlett have worked together to digitize all EPHS records and are currently evaluating the build to convert to field-based tablets and EPHS software, thus eliminating old inefficient paper-intensive practices.
Palmer assumed her current role as the Lead Environmental Health Specialist in June of 2016 and is currently working toward her Bachelor of Science degree in the field. Sarah has also become certified in ServSafe, Pool & Spa, Water-Borne Illnesses, and Basic & Advanced Onsite Wastewater Treatment system programs. With environmental health questions, Sarah can be reached at 573-581-1332.
Audrain County Health Department Billing Specialist, Diane Baker, CCA, successfully passed her national certification examination as a Certified Coding Associate through the American Health Information Management Association. The Audrain County Board of Health and Administrator Sandra Hewlett, MS, APRN, AOCN, FACHE, recognized Baker at the Board of Health’s November meeting last Wednesday.
Hewlett says Baker has expanded the department’s contracts with private insurers and has reduced the department’s bad debt over the past two years.
“The health department, like most healthcare entities had a lot of bad debt due to denied claims, unpaid medical invoices, and inaccurate coding in the past,” Hewlett told the board. “For the last two years, we’ve had zero dollars in bad debt because of Diane’s dedication and hard work. That’s almost impossible to do in healthcare today. But we have done it here. That means we are able to provide more services to those who need it, and that’s our goal.”
Hewlett says when she came to work at the health department, there were only five commercial contracts with insurance companies. Hewlett mentored Baker, and together, they have expanded their commercial payers exponentially since then.
“I taught Diane to do contracts and, after doing the first few, she began to do them on her own,” Hewlett said. “I told her to see me if she needed me. She occasionally saw me, but now she does them on her own. We now have 38 commercial contracts with insurers, and she’s done an exceptional job with billing, contracts, and the elimination of the bad debt.”
Baker recently completed her coding class, which led to her national certification as a Certified Coding Associate.
“You know, a few years ago, I was a very shy person,” Baker told the board. “Sandra helped bring me out of that, gave me the confidence to do better and to take the training necessary to make me better. I love my job, and I want to continue to do what I can to make this the best place to work in Audrain County.”