Health Department to close on Fridays

Sam Laros

The Portage County Health Department shut its doors today, and will close nine additional business days this year to confront a financial deficit.

Starting today, the department located on South Meridian Street in Ravenna will close the second and fourth Fridays of each month until the end of June.

Within the month, the department will finalize its budget for 2011 and determine whether it has the funds to last through the first quarter of the year. If not, DuWayne Porter, Portage County Health Department commissioner said it will extend the furlough.

The department provides services to students, including vaccinations for the H1N1 flu virus and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Porter said he does not think Kent State students will be troubled by the Fridays the department is not open.

“The closing should have little effect on students,” Porter said.

DeWeese Health Center employee Betty Jarvis said her co-workers often refer students to the Portage County Health Department when their insurance does not cover vaccinations through the university.

Porter said most students call ahead to make appointments or attend the adult vaccination clinics on Tuesdays.

Additionally, the Health Department offers a travel clinic to students who are planning to study abroad and collaborates with university activities such as the Nutrition Outreach program.

Jodie Luidhardt, Nutrition Outreach coordinator, said each year the Portage County Health Department solicits funds from the state Department of Health for Nutrition Education programming. With money awarded to the Portage County Health Department and allocated to Kent State, student volunteers run a K.I.D.S. (Kids Interested in Diet and Sport) camp, act as nutrition counselors for families in Portage County and travel to local elementary schools cafeterias.

“Most of our undergraduate students are involved more with our nutrition education programs that take place in Portage County schools,” Luidhardt said. “We have the ‘healthy munch bunch,’ and that’s where some of our nutrition students will go to the schools and talk to kids about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables at lunch.”

Porter said after June, the department will likely reopen on Fridays.

Contact public affairs reporter Sam Laros at [email protected].