OSAGE | During the weekly meeting of the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors, the supervisors met with newly hired Mitchell County Home Health/Public Health Administrator Melissa Smith, who addressed the inefficiency of the current physical layout of the public health side of the building.

“It’s not efficient,” said Smith. “The cubicle setup is not conducive to private work space. It’s just not a good setup. In the last 14 pay periods, we have had over $20,000 in overtime. I want to reorganize the space and switch sides.”

Smith stated there was no staff lounge in the building. The room where they (nurses) are supposed to administer vaccinations and visit with clients, has supplies and boxes on the exam tables and dishes in the sink, as well as food on the counters, as staff have no place else to eat, except at their desks.

“Most staff work through their lunch breaks, or at that their desks or in that little clinic room, which is not supposed to have food in there, as it is an OSHA violation,” Smith said.

Smith asked the supervisors about the private office spaces in the building, one of which is being rented by DHS and another to Prairie Ridge, while two offices are operated by One Vision which is no longer a county run entity.

“I saw pictures and did a walk through,” Supervisor Joel Voaklander said. “It’s chaotic. However this was how it was set up in the first place, but it doesn’t work today.”

In addition, Smith pointed out the large amount of space currently occupied by the food bank and inquired whether there was an alternate location for them.

“The food bank was never supposed to take the whole room there,” Voaklander said. “There was a dividing wall, but they’ve encroached on that.”

Smith discussed the issues of overtime and the struggles her staff encounters.

“A huge part of the overtime is that they can’t focus,” Smith said. “There are constant interruptions. I am sending them to the conference room to do their charting.”

Smith stressed the position of the cubicles, in the office, makes it impossible to get a wheelchair up and down the alleyways between cubicles, which is not in compliance with standards.

“Yes, there are people maybe using the spaces a few times a week,” Smith said. “But I need functional space. We are on call seven days a week. My office is the only private office which has a door. The office probably isn’t compliant with the fire marshal either.”

The supervisors informed Smith they would contact DHS about the use of that office, as well as speak to Mitchell County Food Bank Director Leo Chisholm in regards to a possible alternate location.

In other action, the supervisors received an update on the lease agreement with Valent BioSciences.

“We’re in favor of it,” Supervisor Joel Voaklander said, “We just need all of the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, dates need to be correct and amounts need to be included.”

The supervisors approved a 2.5 percent consumer price increase for the pretreatment plant effective Feb. 1. In addition, the supervisors made a conditional approval of the lease agreement with Valent BioSciences, pending final review and approval by County Attorney Mark Walk.

In additional, the supervisors approved the hiring of a new deputy Brad Evans, who has been a member of the Osage Police Department since 2012 and is a 2007 graduate of Osage High School. Evans has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Buena Vista University and will join the Sheriff’s Department on March 1. The position became available following the retirement of Deputy Sheriff Jeff Huftalin.

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