By DENISE GRANT
Hancock Public Health Commissioner Karim Baroudi made the first of what will be annual reports to Findlay City Council on Tuesday, describing the decision to merge the city and county health departments as one of the best decisions ever made locally.
Baroudi said the joint department has already improved services and is now self-supporting.
He said the health department is actively seeking state accreditation, one of several goals in merging the departments. Ohio has required that all health departments be state-certified by 2020.
Baroudi said Hancock Public Health may reach that requirement a full year ahead of the deadline. Accredited health departments have better access to grants.
Baroudi said the accreditation process will be two-staged, with a review of both the department’s operation and its facilities.
Those reviews will then both be considered by the state in awarding accreditation.
The Findlay and Hancock County health departments merged into Hancock Public Health effective Jan. 1, 2016. The health department offices are at 7748 Hancock County 140, Findlay, on the property of the former county home.
A part of the main building and a portion of the “cottages” in the back are used by the department.
On Tuesday, Baroudi described the health department as being “landlocked” with no room for any additional programs.
Findlay Safety Director Paul Schmelzer has said the current location will not meet standards for state accreditation.
In early February, Baroudi and health board member Bill Alge approached the county commissioners about financing for the construction or purchase of new quarters.
The health board was interested in issuing a general obligation bond. The health board would repay the bond over 10 to 15 years and then receive title to the property.
However, the commissioners balked at the idea, because the county would be required to co-sign on the loans.
Commissioner Mark Gazarek, a retired banker, told health officials to ask the city for a low-interest loan.
There has been no commitment by Findlay Council on the project.
Baroudi on Tuesday said health department officials have been working on options for a possible relocation, and plan to approach the commissioners again.